Sunday, December 25, 2016

o beautiful star

No manner of speaking (or writing in this case) will relieve the fullness of my heart, the joy of the season and this day in particular. And so, listing once more...

waking so very early in order to begin the day with gentle, peaceful time together

his sweet, beautiful face, all shaven and shorn (as he would say) for Sunday, and the expression in his eyes when he says good morning to me

making all things ready for the descent of the sweetlings into Christmas day

calling them to come downstairs and their thunderous, exultant delight in answer

stockings stuffed with 'just a little somethings' in the manner of the one who first taught that heart-giving style of gift giving to me

traditional Christmas morning casserole paired with time to enjoy the meal together

watching out the window as the sweetlings care for their score of fur creatures, and then listening to them come back in all set to get ready to head to church

singing along to The Young Messiah (circa the 90's) with Jamie to warm up as we drove to church, and the sweetlings discovering that they really like it, too

Christmas Sunday morning worship celebration with our precious church family

a duet with Jamie, for the first time ever outside the walls of our home (or car)  - joy all wrapped up in praise to the One who first imagined celebrations and Who first thought up gifting

sweet time together all afternoon, just being "we" - hanging out with Poppy, the sweetlings unwrapping surprises from Santa, playing, laughing, talking, singing a little more

Meredith with her nose perpetually stuck in one of her new books

Samuel shooting Nerf darts all over the house again and again and again in between intense Lego building sessions

Ila introducing her new doll to her doll family and finding each of them a place to sit with us in the living room

wrapping up the day with Jamie's favorite Christmas movie, watching the sweetlings adding it to their list of favorites, too

coming to find that Christmas has come anew

Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas ♥

Monday, December 19, 2016

use this text

Yesterday just after he read the Scripture and just before he began to share, my pastor prayed this prayer... "Father, use this text to change us forever." He asked that in Jesus' name, and then went on to teach a beautiful Christmas message from Micah.

But those eight words changed me. Those simple words, that simple request (actually not simple by any means) have taken up residence in my heart. I know, knew immediately, that they are the words I will always use before and after I read my Bible from now on --for they are the heart of the matter, and God's Word can and does and will do that, change us forever.

So, for the first day of this week, this precious few days of the week of Christmas, this is my wish and blessing for you, too. May His Word change you forever.

With so much love, Merry Monday ♥

Saturday, December 10, 2016

twenty-two

Today, I am writing for him. For the beautiful man that he was, is, and is becoming, and for the gifts of his heart and life...

strength and grace
when he works and walks

heart and hope
when he writes, preaches, teaches

joy and delight
when he's with the sweetlings

sweet soul and melodies
when he plays and sings

dreaming, planting, harvesting
when he looks into coming days

loving and watching
as he takes precious time with the family

peace and kindness
as he lives our daily days

learning and growing
as he reaches out in the places of his portion

praying, leading, serving
as he loves us with his life

So beautiful he is. In the blue, blue of his eyes, in the sweet crinkles of laugh lines on his face, in the gentleness that is his way, in the great-heart that is his standard, in the use of his hands to create, in the tireless ways he cares for us, he is just so beautiful. More so now than even he was when we first met, just so lovely to me.

We were married twenty-two years ago today at eleven in the morning ♥

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

to clap and to cheer

This morning at CBS precious Cindy shared the story of a little boy who was trying out for a role in a play. It seems that even before he went to audition, he had chosen the part that he thought was exactly right for him --and he had his heart set on that part.

When he came home from the casting call and his mother asked him what part he had been given, he said, "Oh, Mama! I've been chosen to clap and to cheer!"

Our lesson was on spiritual gifts, you see. If we are in Christ, the Holy Spirit has come to dwell in us. Purposefully, specifically He (the Holy Spirit) chooses our gifts and gives them to us.

Our gifts are not random, not an accident, and not in or of our own power or making. They are no casual matter. He is intentional; they are chosen for us, a unique blend of who we are and what they are. We are so very loved! He knows us so well, and He knows and understands the Father's heart.

What a joy! And when we ask for eyes to see, He makes them known to us, equipping us for ministry and to encourage one another ♥

Monday, December 5, 2016

show me how


"Pray that God will show you how to teach your children 
that life is meant to be lived for God."

Just that one sentence from my reading this morning has set afire my thought life today. God dreamed us up, gave us life, gave us Christ, and gave us gifts. Our life is through Him, to Him, for Him, and with Him. Asking that the Father helps us to lead them beyond the selfish, grandiose (and honestly, weak and watered-down), "you can be anything that you want to be," to the simple beauty and power and promise of becoming what He created us to be (and that is, like Christ) - what a gift and what a challenge.

"You are not the owner of your own body.
You have been bought, and at what a price!
Therefore bring glory to God in your body."

Quite a lesson for this day ♥

"Pray" quote from EE
Scripture from 1 Corinthians 6:20 




Wednesday, November 30, 2016

first night

Sitting here at my desk working away at the final details for a very special adventure coming up in just a little more than twenty hours. Some of Meredith's crew will be here for the first night of December, and oh, how we are going to celebrate!

They may never know what an absolute gift I consider the blessing of spending a little time with them to be, but I am going to do my very best to try to make it plain. Pray with me? Specifically, that the Father will make Himself known in a real way as we play and laugh and share and sing.

Ho-Ho-Happy Christmas Kick-Off to you, too! ♥

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

oh, Mr. Dickens!

One of the many most precious moments of this day...

Watching my sweetlings' faces melt into joy along with old Ebenezer's heart. How they fumed and fussed at him at the beginning of the story, and they were not pleased one little bit by Jacob Marley's visit. The ghost concept was, to quote Samuel, "just plain weird," but the glimpses they gave us were "exactly right!" It was a lovely first meeting with a favorite classic.

Tipping our caps to Mr. Dickens and holding Christmas close ♥

Monday, November 28, 2016

one step by one step

It has been a day of focusing on thankful things and preparing our hearts for advent, one of mending fraying edges of sibling relationship, and of remembering Whose we are and who we want to be to one another. Sitting down with each of my sweetlings in private conversation and heart-search has been tough and just so very grand. Isn't it amazing how those two things can be so intimately paired? There is nothing, not one single thing, that I would accept in the place of knowing my children and having them know me (as painful as it can be for me to see my faults in their eyes, behavior).

One would think that spending the moments, hours, days, and years together as we do that it would be a bit easier to remain constant in the diligence that is required for maintaining love, joy, peace and all the rest of that wonderful fruit in our relationships together. But I find, over and over, that it is not in any way akin to the process of osmosis! Ha! Just like I cannot place a book on my head and absorb what's inside, I cannot just speak love, quote love, dream love and expect it to be. I have to be love. Moment to moment and very much on purpose, intentionally loving them as a crew and individually --even when I am weary, even when I am just done with the concept of "mom", even when my own expectations, dreams, cares are shattered, even when... always love.

So, being love. One step by one step I am becoming. Oh, the mistakes! Oh, the failures! But by Christ's great mercy, grace, and love, I am becoming, we are becoming ♥

Thursday, November 24, 2016

If you could peek...

... into my view right now you would see my heart. The sweetlings and Jamie all in a row on the couch watching the Charlie Brownest, grinning madly, tummies full, having had a simple, lovely day together. We baked together all morning, running up and down to see Poppy, and he came up to celebrate with us. We talked the afternoon and early evening away. Hugs and hellos shared over the miles with Paige and her precious crew, and the blessing of having them close in our hearts no matter the distance was and is such a joy. Now everyone is settling into the quiet late of the day. They are so beautiful in my sight. What a gift to be here among them, to celebrate with them. Happy, Happy Thanksgiving ♥

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

everything


As I bake and work today, singing and praying this...

Jesus come and be all I want and all I need
Be my portion and my strength forever

Jesus come and be all I want and all I need
Be the one desire in me forever

You’re everything, be everything
I live and breathe

Thanks-living here ♥

Lyric: More Than Rubies "Live and Breathe"

Friday, November 18, 2016

peanut butter acorns with chocolate sprinkle caps

• Samuel walking circles around behind my desk chattering about all that he has going on tomorrow

• Ila giggling at the video Abigail texted to us of Pumpkin

• Visiting with Meredith for nearly an hour this evening - just the two of us sitting cross-legged on my bed and talking about everything that comes to her mind

• Stopping to pray thanks for precious friends to love

• White twinkle lights in the vines over the door - every day

• Good things to read of all kinds: books, the sweetlings' stories, magazines, letters, journals

• Spending time with Ila today, camped out on the couch listening to her and sipping coffee

• our home

• a darling idea for a fun fall snack (hence the title of this post :)

And just now...
• Jamie telling the sweetlings it's time for bed, lots to do tomorrow, so we need a good night's rest, and Samuel comes back with, "Yeah! I gotta get up early and put my make-up on!!"  Ha! His final dress rehearsal is tomorrow, and he's most anxious of all about that part.

More counting today, and these are just a few ♥

Thursday, November 17, 2016

for my journal today...

• Samuel's sweet face all alight as we headed to his dress rehearsal

• Meredith delighted to be with Samuel and to be asked to help by Mrs B

• Ila bouncing all the way to the Art Society at the Depot for art class

• wonderful time visiting with the other mamas at our sweetlings' activities

• the colors between the trees at the entrance to our road

• plans that are taking shape for Thanksgiving next week

• time together

• a bit of a different schedule

• working on secret projects for the sweetlings for Christmas

• the sounds of my family all around in the house and outside just now

Counting, counting ♥

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

it's time

Do you remember that we love because He first loved us? Do you remember that notwithstanding the size of the giants, the grapes are enormous and the puddles are milk and honey? Do you remember that you were created for such a time as this? Do you remember Who is holding your right hand and in Whose hand you are held? Do you remember that the battle is won? Do you remember to Whom this earth and everything in it belongs? Do you remember that love always hopes?

Yes?

Then glory in His Name. Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and His strength. Seek His face always. Ask. Seek. Knock. And remember the wonders He has done.

Remember. Stand. Walk. Love. Hope! ♥

Friday, November 4, 2016

when the air turns to gold

They giggle and laugh and dance and sing. Squabbles break out and they sound like so many geese all fussy and fretting, ruffled and peckish. Until one of them remembers love and forgiveness, grace, mercy... then smiles return and the others follow suit and three become one again. Off they go on an adventure in the outdoors (with the kitten all wrapped up in arms), and their joy shines all around us -- and is catching.

Piling back into the house when Pumpkin grows weary or when they need a snack or at my call, their voices fill all the space to bursting again. Questions, discussions, ideas, plans, just plain old silliness, and the wonder (that's my favorite if I have to choose) over some discovery are my heart's delight.

I realize then, once more, what a privilege it is to be their mom. The air all around has turned to gold and I am awash in grateful thanks. Oh, Father, thank You ♥

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

hooray for the home team

Sweetest moment of the day so far...

When you have the joy and the privilege of standing by the door at the stairs and listening to your dad and your uncle welcome your sweetlings in to watch the game with them. The mix and mingle of all of their precious voices has my heart singing thanks just now ♥

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

of coffee, naps, and pumpkin rescues

Do you know that moment when you are sitting at your desk, sipping on a positively scrumptious cup of coffee and thinking, "Oh, I am sooooo sleepy! I think I'd better hop up and do something!" And you don't, in fact, hop up at that very second of realization, so you find yourself half an hour later awaking to the sound of an amused chuckle. Your husband thinks you are adorably fuzzy, waking, but in truth you are a little on the grumpy side at having fallen asleep in the first place, a little stiff from the head on the back of the chair / chin to the sky position in which you dozed, and all in pins and needles in the foot that was up on your file box under your desk. Whew, I am a party girl, I tell you! Loads of fun in the early evening of our busiest day of the week, that's me.

It has been a really wonderful day, though (she says while grinning madly at the screen even though still a little sleepy-eyed from said cat nap). And speaking of cats... precisely one week ago today the littles were choosing their pumpkins on our fall adventure day, and today a pumpkin chose us! Our sweetlings are the proud mamas and papa to a teeny tiny orange kitten, just six weeks old. His cutie little face and golden eyes have fairly captured our hearts. He showed up in a box at our precious friends' house a few days ago, abandoned, and through their great kindness and help he is rescued. Our wee "Pumpkin" is healthy and well and currently purring like a fine engine in his new digs in the garage.

Now that I am fully awake, I think I'll pop out there and check on him again ♥

Saturday, October 29, 2016

variations on a theme

I am so glad it is Saturday! The sweetlings, Jamie, and I are absolutely ambling around the house and yard (lovely pace, ambling, yes?) from project to project. Stopping occasionally to talk something over, like the very serious business of pumpkin carving designs or what to do with the leftover melted beeswax, we then head to the kitchen for a snack or a cup of coffee and then back to projects.

It has been a gorgeous week - so busy, though! I keep saying things like, "When our schedule evens out..." or "When we settle into our routine..." but that doesn't seem likely to happen this fall at all. So many variations on a theme with our daily days, and what a challenge and a great blessing to be able to live them and to share them.

Just popping in here to record the joy of this gentle day. What fun to simply hang out with these guys, all five of us together in this place that we love.  And I've settled here at my desk for a little while to do some of my favorite things: write a little, create plans and more plans, catch up with my favorite journals. So many ideas are swirling around in my head!

Oh! I almost forgot to say that I tried a new recipe yesterday, one that I was so hoping to come here and share. Well, it turned out beautifully but just plain old lacked flavor! Bah! It makes me grumpy to waste ingredients (chocolate!! real maple syrup!!). If I could frame those muffin wanna-be cakes, we'd at least have the pleasure of looking at them for a while. I suppose I'll tuck away the joy of having made something new, along with the memory of the fun Ila, Jamie and I had baking together. And perhaps one day soon we'll bring out another new recipe to try.

OK, well, this is becoming a bit of a ramble, so I'll hush ♥

Pssst... Happy Saturday!

Friday, October 28, 2016

pour & give

From my reading this morning...

"Is not God calling all whose ears are open to Him to recognize the wounds of the world and pour forth His love...?

Whose will be the strong shoulder of sympathy ready to bear another's burdens?--not with the tepid sentimentality which only weakens, but with the burning love which gives hope and cheer and strength?"

Life by life, soul by soul, doing small things with great love, we live. Not perfect, not without mistakes and blunders, but knowing deep in our hearts and bones just what Christ did for us, we pour and we give ♥

quote from EE
phrase "do small things with great love" from Mother Teresa

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

invitation answered :)

We just tucked in two fall-funned-out, tuckered out littles. What a fun day! The sweetlings awoke to the very serious business of finding those invitations Jamie and I told them would be delivered after they were asleep last night.

They discovered them quickly and set out to follow the enclosed instructions about how to prepare for the day: including clothing directions, the necessity of an adventure hat, choosing a basket for the day, preparing water bottles for everyone, and doing their first fives.

We set out after a yummy breakfast of their favorites (Jamie's pancakes with eggs and livermush), stopping along the way for coffee and white chocolate cocoa at the Lily Bean. We spent the morning on the river, nature walking, discovering trails of our own, watching the water, and making some fall projects. Each of us brought a basket along, so we spent quite a bit of time collecting beautiful fallen treasures from the woods to add to our baskets.

We used our treasures in a stick-and-twine loom we made for our nature weaving project. This is the first time we tried this one, and it was so much fun! The end result is beautiful and very "us." We also made leaf and bark rubbing murals with my favorite stash of wax crayon colors.

After a picnic with some of Poppy's honey wheat bread, nuts and clementines, we played some more, read a story or two, and then spent some time on the play area (complete with slides and a fort).

Next we set off for the pumpkin patch to choose some carving pumpkins, and then headed home for a snack. There we pulled out the crock pot to make a soup for supper, had a little down time, and then it was back outside for some more adventuring.

We spent the late afternoon alternating leaf hunting, watching the pot of melting beeswax, and enjoying the absolutely stunning sunset. Inside again after sunset for our soup supper, the sweetlings turned their sights on preserving all of the pretty leaves we found. They dipped and dipped and dipped and are looking very much forward to doing some more of that tomorrow, along with creating garlands by stringing the waxed leaves.

That wrapped our day, and they were delighted to find that we will continue the fun later this week with pumpkin carving, fall decorating, and preparing for Fall Festival.

A glorious time was had by everyone. Smallest to tallest there were no complaints just joy - so neat! The littles had no idea what might be coming next on our fall adventure agenda (lol), and it was such a blast watching their faces all through the day! They are already discussing and hoping for our next adventure day. Now I just need to locate the winter fairy? Or the Thanksgiving one? Or the Great Pumpkin? You just never do know ♥

Monday, October 24, 2016

oh, fall!

The littles and I are trekking out for an adventure morning tomorrow, and I am so excited! The ideas have been swirling madly over the past two days as I have pieced and patched together a bit of fall fun. How I love to plan for them!

Our sweet friend, the fall fairy, has been by to drop off their invitations to the day, and I have packed adventure bags and tucked a list in my stash of awesome books and crafty goodness. The only things left to do now are to quietly place the invitations where they will surely discover them at first light, and to try to find a way to wind down so that I can rest a little while before we are off.

It makes me laugh to consider just what shape we all may be in by the time it's time for choir tomorrow afternoon, but I am certain that the littles will be soaked in sunshine and fairly squishy with the joy of the fall season.

More tomorrow evening if there is energy left with which to type ♥

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

roars and whispers

A message for my heart today (and maybe yours, too?)...

"Courage, dear heart."

As surely as hope is the victory won, hope lives
and breathes in the moment to moment of my
trusting Him, seeking Him, walking with Him
right now, every day.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and
peace as you trust in Him, so that you may
overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."



quotes from CS Lewis & Paul - Romans 15:13

Monday, October 10, 2016

tucked in

Absolute favorite moment of this day...

Sitting on the porch swing with Jamie just a moment ago, all tucked in under his arm. We smiled a lot, talked a little, and listened to the crickets. Praising the Father in our own way, just we two, for time together in this simply gorgeous fall evening. He leaned over for a kiss, and I snuggled in a little closer trying hard not to think past just the ten or so minutes we were able to spend out there. What a gift to realize that if I had my choice of all of the places, right there is where I would choose to be. So thankful ♥

Thursday, October 6, 2016

tick by tock

Making note of the thankful things again today. Just a jot here and a phrase or two there through the hours of the day add up to just so much. Just. So. Much.

• the look on Jamie's face when he comes in (even when he is so weary)
he sees me and his eyes light and he smiles and we are both home

• the view from my little writing spot (under the trees)
and all of the new views I've been gifted with lately

• the sweetlings' chatter and joy, questions and play
even their frustrations and challenges - music! joy!

• friends who pray, taking up with so much love the
cry of my heart from yesterday and sending a note to
say, yes! I will pray with you

• silly songs we sing (and can't get out of our heads)
over and over, until we laugh and someone yells won't
we please find something else to get stuck in there

• daily bread and not only just - much more

• wonder - the delight of seeing, and of fresh crisp
paper and a wonderful pen to seal the moment

• feeling well, greeting the day as a gift

• new recipes for fall, a peanut butter and honey
panini and hot spiced cider - yum & double yum!

• that breeze - oh, my heart! sweet and cool it breathes
life into summer-weary imagination and we are all set
for new adventure

• and finally this - and always this: "Yahweh your God
is among you, a warrior who saves. He will rejoice over
you with gladness. He will bring you quietness with His
love. He will delight in you with shouts and songs of joy."
from Zephaniah 3:17

The moments of this day come and go more quickly than
I can write all that there is to say ♥

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

her name

I don't know her name, but she is foremost in my thoughts ever since I saw her. I am asking, praying that the Father will send someone to reach her...

Out on errands at the end of last week, I stopped by the market for a few things. When I reached the checkout line, I said hello to the person across the counter as usual. A very quiet return greeting had me taking a closer look into her face, and the shadows in her eyes broke my heart. She was miserable, but did not say so. She was doing everything she could to stand, to work --it was so clear, though she spoke not a word of complaint.

I tried to reach out, to begin a conversation, but it was beyond her. She was not rude or sarcastic, she just needed to concentrate to do the next thing and could spare nothing for anything more.

I could not see her name tag; it was covered by the cardigan she wore. How I wished for a way to find out without calling attention, so that I could pray specifically, calling her by name. I prayed all the way home anyway.

And so I come here, asking if you will pray with me for this precious girl. Trusting with me for her heart and its care -- the Father knows her name ♥

Friday, September 30, 2016

to ask

"God teaches us to ask so that He may answer our prayers.

Let's never forget that some of  His greatest mercies are His refusals. He says no in order that He may, in some way we cannot imagine, say yes. All His ways are merciful. His meaning is always love."

That first statement up there reached out and took hold of my heart this morning. I hadn't ever really thought about it that way. We are encouraged, taught, invited, challenged again and again to ask...

Then the words following met me just where I am today. It's Mom's birthday, one of my favorite days of the year. Though I am missing her deep, so deep, the Father took the time today to remind me of His great mercy and love. And so I celebrate so many things today. Just. so. many. things. ♥

quote from EE

Monday, September 26, 2016

as His

From my reading this morning...

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility,
gentleness and patience.

Bear with each other and forgive one another
if any of you has a grievance against someone.

Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

And over all these virtues put on love,
which binds them all together in perfect unity. 

Colossians 3:12 - 14

Joy for the week ♥

Saturday, September 24, 2016

simple things

The sweetlings have been out and about with Jamie all day today, so it's quite a different morning and afternoon here all by myself in our house. Just now, I am counting blessings...

a quiet day

a trip to the grocery store

cleaning the bathrooms

cutting and arranging flowers

doing laundry

preparing for Sunday

planning and prep for supper

working on school plans

studying for CBS

writing a little

reading a little

Oh, to be able to do these simple things! As I was working just now, the thought struck me again, what a privilege it is to be able to work, plan, prepare for my family. To have the time to stop for a little break to write or to read is a gift, a gift! A few quiet hours in which to be alone (thinking in a straight line ^_^ not speaking a word aloud), and then that these hours will find me at their end longing for my JMSI to return.

Can you imagine? Me with all of the grand plans I made and make still, enjoying -more than I ever thought possible- a day like this? Standing in the kitchen, grinning madly over the ideas that popped to mind for our meal this evening? Imagining the children's eyes alight when they come home to find that I have made homemade lime-aid (using Grana Jane's lemonade recipe) as a treat, just because there was a gorgeous bag of limes at the market? Cleaning bathrooms, not as drudgery, but with a mind only to bless my family?

So, I add to my list... a transformation in me. That God would take the time to help me learn again and again the gift of contentment, and that He allows me to see. And then, finally, this: "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, just as we told you." What a day ♥

quote is 1 Thessalonians 4 verse 11

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

a radiant example

"Have I a true servant-heart? I should have.

I will not be anything like my Lord Jesus if I haven't,
for He came not to be served but to serve.

He set for us a radiant example of how He meant it.
He washed feet.

Knowing His own origin and destiny,
He did it with grace and He did it with love."

Thankful for this reminder today ♥

quote from Keep a Quiet Heart by EE

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

the fourteenth day

One morning when Ila and I were at the beach, we sat down on the couch together to work on a school project. As we began talking, we realized that we both had forgotten to read our devotions for the day when we first woke up. We ran back to our bedrooms to get our books and settled in to read them together. Ila read hers to me first, and then I read mine to her.

On that day EE was sharing the story of her friend, Nina Jean. It seems that Nina had been reading in Deuteronomy 1 about when the Israelites were within fourteen days  of the Promised Land. Do you remember the social climate of that time? Moses was at his wits' end to put up with the people. They were complaining about absolutely everything! And do you remember what happened to those people? Not a one of them entered the Promised Land!

Nina Jean shared that she made up her mind that if complaining was the reason God's people were denied the privilege of entering Canaan, she was going to quit it. She then set herself the task of no complaining for fourteen days.

As I finished reading to Ila, she said, "Mom! I need to do that!" I agreed that I did, too, and asked if she would like to work on it together. And so we made a covenant not to complain for two weeks. We prayed and asked God to help us as we worked to learn how to serve Him better with our words. We also found pretty matching bracelets to wear to help ourselves and each other to remember.

Well, today is the fourteenth day! We have smiled and hugged and celebrated all along through the day. We wore our bracelets and shared with the rest of our family what we have been up to --and we plan to have a tea party here in a little while to crank the celebration up a notch or two yet.

We learned that breaking the habit of complaining is a tough thing, and we were surprised to find how many "little" negative things pop out in our speech in a day. We also learned that shouldering a challenge together - bearing a burden together - makes the task lighter, even fun.

And best of all? God made Himself known in another significant and special way in our lives: He honored our prayer asking for His help. We found that when we were having a tough time, the other would pop up and say, "Remember your C's!" He gave us the courage to begin and the desire to keep going when old habits started trying to sneak back in. And He has helped us to want to continue!

Praising the Father for His goodness today,
and catching a glimpse from the fourteenth day into "for always" ♥

story from EE's Keep a Quiet Heart

Monday, September 19, 2016

butterflies on the beach

By the great kindness of a precious friend, Ila and I were able to take a little retreat a couple of weeks ago, just the two of us. Oh, what a sweet time! We sang and played, read stories to one another, worked on school, laughed a LOT, talked about some heart things, danced, watched the water and boats and creatures, played in the sand and the sea, cried a little, watched "Little House" episodes, met new friends young and old...

Among our favorite things about the lovely place we visited were the butterflies. They were everywhere! So pretty and lively and fun to watch, they accompanied us through all the hours of our adventures. Particular to this beach, though, and to our great delight and endless wonder, was their presence with us on the beach. I don't remember ever seeing more than one or two on a beach anywhere else ever.

Moment to moment we could look around and somewhere within our frame of view there would be one or, most often, two little butterflies dancing away across the sand and then out over the water. They continued on to disappear out of sight far away over the ocean.

What a joy to dream up the places they might be heading off to and the adventures they might have along the way and once they arrived. We laughed to think of them visiting with friendly dolphins and whales when they wanted some company and of them stopping to rest on a pretty sailboat or a large ship. We wondered how they might find food, whether the salty spray of the sea might make their wings heavy and their flight longer, and where they found the energy to fly and fly and fly.

Perhaps the most challenging idea of all was the courage / inclination of such a tiny, delicate creature to strike out over a huge ocean on a seemingly endless journey. We talked long and long about the butterflies on the beach. What a beautiful picture of trust and hope! What sweet remembries ♥

Friday, September 16, 2016

blue

What a privilege to pray with precious friends we've not even met yet. What a privilege to cry and mourn with them, even as we celebrate a life well lived - a life of service. What a privilege to honor and support those men and women who are first responders in our community, state, and nation - even as our hearts break with loss ♥

This morning, Ila asked me to please tell her again what happened to Officer Brackeen. As I shared with her, her eyes filled and she became so angry! She asked me what would happen next, and as we talked she said, "But Mom! What can I do?" So I shared with her the story of two children who lost their fathers this weekend. We discussed how neither of those precious little ones had the opportunity to help or decide, and that both of them will always be working to deal with what happened. And then we remembered what she can do - what we can all do - we can PRAY. It's the single most loving and powerful thing we can do.

And so we did that specifically, purposefully standing and holding hands in our kitchen at 2pm. We will continue to do that as often as the Father brings these precious folks to our hearts and minds. Any time we hear a siren of any type, wherever we are, we pray for the first responders and the folks they are going to help - and we will continue to do so. We will smile and wave and pray when we see them out in their vehicles around town, and we will stop to say hello and thank you whenever we can.

We will also pray for families who are dealing with the consequences of poor decisions, remembering that sin is something that every single one of us deals with every single day.

We will remember that God calls us to respect authority, and we will pray as our nation tries to re-learn that lesson. We will pray for parents to remember to teach their children and for the children to hear and take it to heart.

Proudly and prayerfully all in blue here ♥


Thursday, September 15, 2016

His smile

Not a shadow can rise,
Not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;

Not a doubt or a fear,
Not a sigh or a tear
Can abide while we trust and obey.

This precious tune is on my heart this evening. So much on my mind.
Thankful for His smile, His heart, His plans, His grace... ♥

From the hymn "Trust and Obey" by JH Sammis

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

stop the car!

That moment when you are all, all buckled in and backing out of the parking spot and the littlest one begins to shout, "Mom!! Mom! Stop the CAR!!" And you are certain that the moment is prelude to a bee incident or a bathroom one...

You try to keep calm and find out what is happening in the back seat, and she keeps imploring you --loudly-- to puh-lease stop the car!

Because there are some police officers just getting out of their cars and crossing the parking lot and she HAS to stop and say hello.

So. you. stop. the. car.

We politely called from the van to the officers, and then hopped out to say hi and how much we appreciate what they do, and how we hope that they have a nice lunch and a good afternoon. And then the sweetlings, grins for miles, wave and say goodbye until we are out of sight.

Glancing covertly in the mirror, you see that the children are now beaming, having met some real life super heroes, and discussing their uniforms, their cars, and what they might have to do to solve a case this afternoon.

You realize as you drive away and home that encouragement is one of the lovliest gifts and commissions we have. How simple, how fun! What a joy to have been a part of what the Father was doing in Ila's heart today ♥

Monday, August 29, 2016

side by side

If you could peek into my room just now... Samuel and Ila are stretched out side by side on my bed, each one holding a side of the book he is reading to her. They stop here and there to discuss something; he pauses while she giggles at the voices he uses to make the story live and breathe. They laugh and wonder over the illustrations and talk about how they might have made the art to match the story in a different way. Sometimes they tumble right into another story right out of his or her imagination or they break into the costume box to play the characters themselves. Other times they choose another story and move on or even work together to write one of their own adventures. I wonder where their books will take them today? What fun to watch and see ♥

Monday, August 22, 2016

pah rum pah pum pum

Truly I was just dropping in here to write about our first day of school. It was a lovely day in every way, by the way ^_^

BUT I happened to glance out toward the pasture as I sat down, in perfect time to see my littlest sweetling marching down through the fence line with one hand on her hip and the other holding a shepherd's staff. I don't know whether I should say, "O, my heart!!" or "Here we go again!!"

It seems rather obvious at this moment (if we hadn't realized before) that some things are born into us and there's no escaping (even if we wanted to). Now, do I head out to buy a slingshot and find some stones or alert the Baptist State Convention --or both?!

Loving this new life under the trees with a view ♥

Friday, August 19, 2016

our direction

Tinkering around with this from my reading this morning...

"When you take the risk of obedience, you find solid rock beneath you--
and markers, evidence that someone has traveled this route before."

I see Indiana Jones in my mind, do you? Ha! That step. Just that
one step. The path is there and though he can't see it... solid rock.

God is my fortress and that includes even the path beneath my feet.
Grateful, so grateful to be traveling on a traveled road ♥

quote from EE

Saturday, August 13, 2016

teach me

Our first day of the new school year is approaching so quickly now. One more week and we will be back at it - my, how the summer has flown by! A few weeks ago the Father led me to a couple of precious verses in Psalms, and they will be the heart-song that helps us to begin our year...

"Show me Your ways, Lord, teach me Your paths.
Guide me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are God my Savior,
and all my hope is in You all day long."

Psalm 25:4-5 ♥

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

nothing but

I sat quietly and listened with tears as they recounted their past mistakes. The questioning was gentle, respectful but thorough. In order to qualify, one's present and past associations and poor decisions were laid bare and then judged for suitability for the present task.

They were truthful, humble as they shared with a room full of strangers these delicate things.

And as I wiped away the evidence of sadness from my eyes, I was reminded of the Father's own eyes, his heart. That He loves us so much that He made a way for sin to NOT win. That though we are bound and burdened by mistakes, foolishness, our own pride... so many awful things... He offers freedom. Forever. In Christ.

And, friends, that is nothing but the gorgeous, glorious truth ♥

Friday, August 5, 2016

such a simple thing

"I am blessed; I can bless.
Imagine!
He could make me the gift!
I could be the joy!

This is one of His miracles too -- the taking of a life and making it a blessing."

It seems such a simple thing, these sweetly placed words. This idea. But oh! It is a miracle. A miracle! That the Father could take a humble, imperfect offering from these hands, this heart. He could make it so much more than we ever could. He will. He does. That He would even think to include us in all that He is up to, the blessings raining down all around...


And I am blown away again. Grace ♥

quote from precious AnnV

Friday, July 29, 2016

everything

To say that when I have come here to write these past days and weeks --everything comes to mind and that I cannot seem to pare it down to decipherable notes or posts-- would be an understatement. We have been moving two households over the past two months and still have projects to do to prepare our former home to sell before mid-August when school begins.

I find myself today, three weeks before summer's end, asking the Father from where the refreshing will come this year. Summertime for us is usually a time of rest and play and of planning and preparing for the upcoming fall and all its busy-ness. It has been His gift to us to have this time to fill our hearts again, to replenish us for the daily days that will gain and gain and gain again a momentum that will extend all the way through next spring.

And so, having had quite the different summer this year, and with an eye to all of its joy and blessings, I wonder how He might make us ready. We are weary. It has been so, so good. It has also been a lot. And so I wonder, and then this morning from my devotion:

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."

I find that I wait and wonder with joy anew.
And He has done it even today, even as I asked.
Refreshing! ♥

Ecclesiastes 3:11

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

the sweet amen

This has been on my heart and in my mind (just can't seem to stop humming the tune) since Sunday morning, and I thought it might be a blessing to you, too. Happy Tuesday ♥

Lead on, O King eternal,
till sin's fierce war shall cease,

And holiness shall whisper
the sweet amen of peace.

For not with swords loud clashing,
nor roll of stirring drums;

With deeds of love and mercy
the heavenly kingdom comes.

from the hymn by EW Shurtleff

Thursday, July 14, 2016

daily grams: joy & thanks

Whew! Just sitting down at my desk for the first time since early this morning, it has been a busy day. We are in high gear here with the move, so it seems that every moment there are three or four things I need to be doing! I have been making a point, though, to have a quiet space of time first thing to meet with the Father, to read His word and a devotion, and to journal a bit. That time has been the mainstay of the days of this adventure summer we are living. How thankful I am!

And so, I wanted to share just a small portion of my reading this morning. I've been looking forward to sharing it here all day long, and I hope it blesses you as it has me ♥

"I may feel disappointment and the despair may flood high, but to give thanks is an action and rejoice is a verb and these are not mere pulsing emotions. While I may not always feel joy, God asks me to give thanks in all things because He knows the feeling of joy begins in the action of thanksgiving."

quote from AnnV

Saturday, July 9, 2016

for this week past & for tomorrow

Father, we cry out to You in our trouble, our heartbreak.
Our country is divided, sorrow-filled, angry, wretched.

Help us remember that there is grace to bear what comes
when we run into Your arms, You who bore all. There is
so much grace there, healing, freedom, peace, love...

Help us remember that when it seems that all fails, You
never fail, and that is why we can always, always give
thanks. Always thanks.

Take our distress and make it beautiful, though we cannot
see for ourselves how. You make all things good for those
who love You.

Help us to be gentle and kind, even when we disagree. Help
us to forgive and give us a blessed forgetfulness, too. May
these days light a deeper, purer devotion to You so that we
can love one another well.

Oh, help us to love one another well.

Make Your presence known in a very special way to all of
the families of those who were killed this week. Let them
be certain of Your great love for them and of our love and
prayers for them.

Heal our land, please.
In Jesus' precious name ♥

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

unless

Unless we make it a habit to give thanks, we often give grief.

Unless we remember to speak praise, we tend to speak poison.

Unless we are intentional about giving God glory throughout the day,
our days give way to grumbling by default.

Unless ♥

from my reading today gently adapted frtom Ann V

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

a treasure map

I woke yesterday morning to a note on my bedside table. I am accustomed to finding them there from time to time when I go up for bed, but this was the first ever to greet me in the morning. It seems that my littlest sweetling had been up since the early morning cutting out paper arrows and making plans for me. The note said that there was treasure waiting to be found and that I must follow the arrows to find it.

So I popped my contacts in and found the first arrow on the banister leading me down the stairs. Discovering arrow after arrow (do you know how challenging it is to draw, color, and cut out lots of little paper arrows?), some in plain sight and some a little tricksy to discover, I was led to my desk and then into one of the drawers to find the treasure.

Another little note :) It says, "I ♥ you Mom." And now it's posted here at my writing desk where I cannot miss it. It reminds me of so much: her face, her smile, her joy, and all of that work. It's also the time she took on Fourth of July morning to lead me step by step to her love. O my heart.

Then there's where that kind of thing comes from in her. I recognize the heart, you see. I know a one who did things like that over and over again all my life to make certain that I knew how very well loved I was. And Ila has never met her, but that Jane-love is living on in her anyway. O my heart.

And there is the much more there, too. The undeniable, gorgeous fact that Christ does that very same thing, has been doing it since the idea for this world was born in His imagination. He's leading us ever toward His love. All we have to do is take a look around to see that every single thing He created directs us to understand that He is everywhere, loving, loving, loving ♥

Monday, July 4, 2016

a birthday prayer

Lord, You have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.

Before the mountains were born
or You brought forth the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting
You are God.

Teach US to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Lord, please help US to see ♥

from Psalm 90 & me

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

this moment

Enjoying a delicious cup of coffee and watching a lovely rain fall. I cannot imagine a more beautiful moment than this one. It's been a tough day, and I really don't know why. Big things are happening for our little family this summer, and it's a lot --and we are seeing the Father's hand every step of the way.  I am more grateful for that than I could ever say!

Stopping here for a quiet moment of thanks
for so many, many blessings
while the rain falls ♥

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

quiet song

The quiet song of gratitude, a heart-full of thanks, lures humility out of the shadows to receive a gift from the Father. Wholly unexpected, though I know that it is He who gave all and gives all --and makes every single thing good.

And that humility, when knees are bent and hands lie open, vulnerable, and my will is bowed --that is where I decrease and He increases. The joy bursts forth there. Grace shines. The love, oh how He loves. I accept whatever the Father chooses to give. Life abundant. The quiet song of His life in me rings through, and He is glorified.

A most blessed Tuesday to you, friends ♥

John 3:30
and thanks to AnnV for the train

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

grace came calling

This morning God sent an answer to prayer to our home. An unexpected visitor stopped by bringing word of something that I have been asking the Father for specifically for the past few months. We'd never met. She knew nothing of the circumstances. She just thought she'd drop by.

I stood in awe, amazed (and a little freaked out). Why are we so surprised when the Father does things like that? I am brought low by that fact that I was not prepared for the moment, and I am so thankful for the reminder to watch and be ready for His answers when I ask. And again, He has stepped into one of the enormous things (to my mind, anyway) and assured me that He is already there, has been for some time now, and will be as the days go by.

Overjoyed to have been here when grace came calling ♥

Monday, June 20, 2016

memory garden

Sitting here this morning, this first day of summer, and all I can see in my mind's eye are my grandmothers' hands --and flowers. Gorgeous lilies (one named for each grandchild), the rose garden outside Papa's window, the funky spiky thing that grew in the front yard with a name I cannot remember, the camellias that grew as tall as trees all circling around the little frog pond, the giant wisteria tree that was the choicest spot for all of the neighborhood bumblebees, the bouquets created for many a Sunday morning worship or delivered to a friend's house, the buds and blooms we were allowed to pick and place in vases or teacups all around their kitchens or on tables...

I was reading in Psalm 136 where, again and again, we are reminded of the great wonders of the Father's own hands and of His great love. Oh, give thanks! And so I do.

Walking joyfully here in the garden of my memory, I see them and I thank God again for their lives, their hands, the flowers they grew, and for summertime, too... all a testimony to His creativity, His grace, His great love ♥

Saturday, June 18, 2016

one thing i ask...

One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.

The only way to see God manifested in the world around is with the eyes of Jesus within. Christ Himself tears the veil to the Holy of Holies, gives me the only seeing I have.

Skirts of stars swirl through black space and waterfalls dance joy-filled over stones, the manes of runaway horses flying full measure in the wind, and a lone mushroom tilting in the shadows of a forest rich in all greens --God sees it all.

I am bowed like wheat, raised like grass blades, grounded and rooted in the knowledge of Whose I am, and I whisper again and again, "Lord, I want to see."

All is grace. ALL is grace ♥

Psalm 27:4
paraphrases & remixes from Ann V
Luke 18:42

Monday, June 13, 2016

all & all

"A willing acceptance of all that God assigns
and a glad surrender of all that I am and have
constitute the key to receiving 
the gift of a quiet heart."

Just a "little something" from my reading today ♥
quote from EE

Sunday, June 12, 2016

this little light

Sweetest sweetling moment of the day so far...

Prepping lightning bug jars with Samuel and Ila! Finding just the right jars, tapping holes in them with just the right size nails and a hammer, and talking about the best techniques for handling jars and bugs at the same time ^_^

I: But they won't be able to breathe, Mom!
S: That's why we are making these holes in the lids.

S: But they won't like the jars, Mom!
Q: That's why we put some grass in for them to crawl on.

I: But they will starve, Mom!
S: That's why we don't keep them very long.

I: But I might skoosh one trying to catch it, Mom!
Q: That's why we catch them with our hands and then put them in.

S: But will they be happy in there, Mom??
Q: I just don't know. But if you take care of them, they will be fine.


Sweet, sweet summertime ♥

Saturday, June 11, 2016

see a flower

Jamie, the sweetlings and I spent most of the day with Dad, busy on our summer project ^_~ As I worked, I came across some letters that were written to our family just after Mom died. Sweet friends took the time to put down on paper their thoughts and memories of Mom for us, sharing what she meant to them. What a gift!

This is just a tiny portion from one of the letters.
It was written as to Mom...

"I cannot see a flower without seeing what could develop in your precious hands, and... you cannot see a flower with out seeing a resurrection."

O my heart ♥

Quote from a letter written by LF

Friday, June 10, 2016

tune my heart

Practice. Practice!

If I want to see everything in the Father and the Father in everything. I must practice. Though it seems that this would be the most natural thing, the simplest thing, how inclined we are to blindness (willful or thoughtless). His love, His joy, His peace, His mercy and grace and faithfulness are there, always. Why would I ever choose to see any differently? If I know the truth (and I do know it), why would I ever not see Him? Measuring the moments of my day, staying awake to His glory, His presence is the crucial thing. It's also the joyful thing. And so I practice.

Come, Thou Fount. Tune my heart to sing Thy grace.
For the streams of Your mercy are never ceasing ♥

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

building on stone

I began this day with just a few moments in Matthew: seek & knock, hear & practice. At the time I really had no idea what particular way the precious, familiar words would work in my heart for this day. As the day unfolded and I watched former days pass and pass and pass again over my hands, I got it. A beautiful encouragement.

For generations now my family has been building! Through unimaginably joyful days, daily days, and heartbroken days... always building.

And I realized that though I am grateful beyond all telling for the legacy, it's the Stone we have been building upon that is the greatest gift. From sweetlings to greatest grands, the same Stone.

Oh, Father, thank You that we will find, that the door will be opened, and for the Stone for our home ♥

Matthew 7:7 & 24

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

just the portion

From my reading today...

"Our enemy delights in disquieting us. Our Savior and Helper delights in quieting us. The choice is ours. It depends on our willingness to see everything in God, receive all from His hand, accept with gratitude just the portion and the cup He offers."

To see everything in God, o my heart ♥

quote from EE

Monday, June 6, 2016

a little yellow note

The half-hour to hour or so when the stress of the day gets the better of you and you freak out a little bit, use your outside voice a little bit, and cry a little bit (or a lot a bit)... and your family isn't quite sure what it's all about, though you feel that you have completely and thoroughly explained it (ad nauseum), and your yuck just spills right out...

And then you take a breath and sit down at your desk and you discover a little yellow sticky note that your eldest sweetling has left for you. And it says, "I leave my peace with you. I give my peace to you. ~Jesus"

You realize quite quickly that once again God has shown up in your day, in the very moment that you needed to be reminded that He is here (not out there somewhere floating around - ha!). He sees. He knows. He cares. I am so loved, and I am His (even when I am all yucky). Oh, how thankful I am.

And even though there may still be freak-out-worthy stuff, all is well and very well. Because of Him, and because someone close by was watching and listening for a prompting from Him to write a little yellow note ♥

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Yours

A prayer for this morning...

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is Yours.

Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head above all.

1 Chronicles 29:11

Amen ♥

Thursday, June 2, 2016

kingdom tales

"Long ago, danger always came to the people in Great Park who were the most brave and to the places that were the most beautiful. Men and women were never what they seemed to be, for magic and mystery and wonder were always possible. But that is not so different from the way things are today..."

It is in the presence of the King that we are most truly who we are. His.


The sweetlings and I are currently re-reading one of our very favorites, and we thought you might like to add a wonderful book to your wish list. Kingdom Tales is a collection of stories told by David and Karen Mains. They use allegory to share truths about the kingdom of God.

The stories begin with Scarboy and his little brother who are in flight to escape the Enchanter and his terrible Enchanted City where no one may walk in the daylight, but only rise and work and live at night. It's a place of great sadness, of artificial power, of burners and breakers, and of ash and fire. But there is a rumor... a rumor of a true King... one who is light and life...

Oh, what fun! We read together, aloud, because of the depth of some of the heart diving. There is abundant adventure and lots of fun to be found, and there are some difficult times, too. I find myself tearing up often as we read, so parents and grands, you may want to pre-read ^_~ The language is engaging, but it can be challenging in some of the chapters. Upon finishing these precious stories, we find ourselves already looking forward to the next time we will take them up together.

To the King! To the Restoration! ♥


Quote from "The Faithless Ranger" chapter 4 of Book 1

Published as the Tales of the Kingdom Trilogy (available at Amazon)
Book 1 - Tales of the Kingdom
Book 2 - Tales of the Resistance
Book 3 - Tales of the Restoration

Re-published as Kingdom Tales (available at My Father's World)
 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

three

"Our worlds reel unless we rejoice.

A song of thanks steadies everything.

The answer to anxiety (stress, fear...)
is the adoration of Christ."

Working with these three "little" statements today ♥

quote from Ann V OTG Devotional
parentheses mine

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

working out with Ila

My littlest sweetling is helping me with my cardio for the day, but not in the way that you might think ^_~ Here are just a few examples from our day so far...

Earlier this morning right out of the blue:
"Mom, did you know that one of my very favorite things to do is to help you with projects? It doesn't matter, really, what we do, just if we can do it together."

A little later in the morning right out of the blue:
"Mom, I have a question for you! Why does Jesus disappear just when the people recognize who He is? You know like those two men from the road when they sat down for supper and poof! He was gone?"

Just a few minutes ago right out of the blue:
Ila brought me a picture from the fridge and asked, "Who is this again, Mom?" It was a picture of my Grandmother (Dad's mom).

=====
So, in this day so far, I have been encouraged, I have been challenged, and I have had the opportunity to remember. In addition to all of that wonderful, I have had three gorgeous sharing times with my little one, her heart and mine, and lots of smiles and hugs, too!

Need I say how much it means to me that my sweetlings enjoy time with me? It amazes me still after all of these years, and I am so grateful. It's one of those "much more" things that the Father has done for me.

Regarding the question above, we talked about how Jesus first kept the men from recognizing Him. I shared that I think that's because He wanted to have the conversation with them just as one man to other men. He wanted to give them the opportunity to share their hearts without being overwhelmed by who He is. That He allowed them to recognize Him once they had slowed down to rest and to be refreshed, when they could take time to really see. And that He left quickly after that so that the fact that He was sitting there with them would not cause them to forget the lessons of the day.

Oh, and Grandmother. I teared up knowing that Ila does not remember her. It is always my joy and a great privilege to speak of Grandmother. I love to share about her with Ila in particular, because Ila is her name sake. I already see Grandmother's strength, joy, and creativity in my little one. Joy!

Loving every moment of this working-it-out ♥

Sunday, May 29, 2016

chasing darkness away

What if I walked in this world making a point of remembering that I am forgiven? Certain that I am no longer subject to evil, to sin (a sinner, yes, but not enslaved by these things)? No longer condemned, but victorious?

What would be different in the moments of my days if I carried this fact carefully forward in my thinking? Not haughty, not self-righteous, not prideful, but so very grateful for the privilege of being a Christ follower, for the gift of being created to glorify the Father like He did. Gentle, kind, loving, merciful --and victorious. What a combination!

Everywhere Jesus went while He walked this earth, He was chasing darkness away. He was light and life, glorifying the Father, victorious even in death. He bought that victory for me, too, and made me light just like Him.

Just a few notes from my morning...
Happy Sunday ♥

A hearty thank you here to my pastor who kindled this train ♥
and to Dr Alice Cullinan who was more of an encourager than
she could ever have imagined today ♥

Friday, May 27, 2016

the last

Hooray! The sweetlings and I wrapped up our school year today. There were delicious sighs and giggly exclamations as they placed each book back on the shelf for the last time. And to top off an already gorgeous day, Jamie came in and took us all out for ice cream to celebrate!

As usual, I am a little teary as we farewell a year. The thing that is shooting straight for my heart this afternoon is the fact that I have now taught second grade for the last time. I simply love teaching my sweetlings. The joy, the challenge, the difficult days... none is perfect, but it all wraps up into one of the very best, hardest, most wonderful things in my life. And time is fleeting.

To pack away the things of second grade knowing that there's not going to be an, "Oh, I can't wait to teach this again in a couple of years..." is tough. I am just not quite ready for these kinds of lasts. The sweetlings are, though, and I cannot begin to share what a gift and blessing that is! I am so thankful!

Looking forward with a heart full-to-bursting,
while I stand in the last moments of this last day ♥

Thursday, May 26, 2016

faded & holey

He's outside right now planning, digging up beds, planting flowers. Tracks through the lawn show that the tiller has been busy. The sun reflected in his smile and on his skin takes a moment to rest in the laugh lines around his eyes. He looks beyond the current state of things into what will be lovely when placed according to his design.

As much as he is anything - husband, father, pastor, teacher, son, brother, friend - he is what  he is doing right now. Some of it was taught to him, some learned from years of experience alongside wonderful mentors, and some gifted to Him by the Father.

Long before he knew more of what God had in mind to make of him, he was doing this thing that he loved. And that is where the beginning of "us" was. It makes me smile, oh! I love to see him out there. He is beautiful in my sight.

The sweetlings are out there with him, legacy-growing, with dirty hands and grins wide to their ears. They are laughing, sharing, and asking questions, and he is loving every moment.

So I run here, to this witnessing place, counting the thankful things... loving my precious, sweet man in his faded and holey jeans as he takes a little while to breathe-in a part of his heart ♥

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

if I should speak

So maybe you have already heard. Perhaps you already know when you come to speak day in and day out in the places where God has given you voice --just what to say. Some days I do. It rings forth and resonates in such a way that I simply cannot not say. But there are subjects, things we deal with in this present day (and night) about which I have been praying for months upon months. What to say? Father, what would you have me say in response to this? And this? And even this?

Well, tonight? Answers.

"If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him"

And so, I will ♥

Lyric from "My Story" by Big Daddy Weave
Listen to the whole song below :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

present possibilities

It's very, very simple today:

As longs as thanks is possible,
joy is present.

Father, help us to see ♥

Monday, May 23, 2016

the assassin & the stoplight

You know those questions the sweetlings ask... they come out of nowhere, and you find yourself challenged in ways far beyond what you were expecting for normal dinnertime conversation? That's what happened here last night. Meredith asked, "Mom, what would you do, what would you say, how would you handle it if you found out that your very best friend in the world was an assassin? You had absolutely no idea, but you found out that everything you thought you knew about him/her was false and that he/she is a killer?"

My eyes grew wide, and I thought for a minute. And then I started a handful of different sentences only to stop and try again. I hadn't really thought about that particular situation before, so I began searching my heart for some reference point from which to answer her.

Finally, I started with, "I don't know, sweetie."

And then, God stepped in with the words...

"I don't know. There would have to be a conversation - hopefully there would be a conversation, and I can't begin to tell you what I might say. But I do know this for sure, God would give me the words to say. Do you know how I know? Because He has done that for me so many times before."

And then I began sharing examples of times from her own life when God has given me the words to say to her, like the time we were sitting at the stoplight at the end of our road...

We were in a mighty hurry, and of course, the light was red. Meredith was maybe five at the time, and she piped up with, "OOh! Why do we have to sit here and wait for that awful light to turn? Hurry up!!" I told her that waiting is a part of nearly every day and all the time. Moments like sitting at the stoplight are opportunities God gives us to practice our patience, which is one of the fruits of the Spirit. She didn't know it at the time, but as soon as those words came out of my mouth, I was thinking, "Did I say that?!"

She remembered that day - that "practice our patience talk" at the stoplight, and that we sang the Yum Yum fruits of the Spirit song. It was a joy to share what God had done for us that day, and she was comforted by the fact that God can and will handle things that come up for which we simply have no words or answers.

=====
It occurs to me that it would take hours and days to re-tell all of the stories just in Meredith's life when God stepped in and gave me the words that I did not have in answer to her questions, in response to situations in which we found ourselves, in order to comfort her broken heart or her fears.

So, this afternoon, once again, I am bearing witness to His life in our moments.
Counting the thankful things, even the stoplight and the assassin ♥

Sunday, May 22, 2016

first, I thank Him

"...If thanks is the highest form of thought - make it my first thought.

Turn me toward thanks first - so my life doesn't turn into the last thing I'd hoped for.

Turn me toward You first - first things first means to give You thanks first."

-----
Reflecting today on living life looking for the thankful things, and my quiet time brought precious Ann focusing on the first part of Romans 1:8. "First, I thank my God..."

And so I whisper here for you and for me:
remember thanks,
see Him everywhere (that's where He is),
and speak thanks with your life.

May our lives overflow with gratitude to God our Father in Jesus' name... every single moment ♥

quote from a prayer by Ann V

Friday, May 20, 2016

update Dad - praise!

Thank you all so much for your prayers for our family this week. Dad's heart cath went very well! The doctors placed two stents and are so encouraged that this will improve Dad's stamina and overall outlook. Thanks be to God! Everyone we met from staff to nurses to doctors was as kind as they could be, and they are taking great care of him. Dad will be in the hospital overnight, and they will check his kidney function in the morning - please continue to pray with us about that if you will. They plan to have him home tomorrow afternoon.

We love you all and are thankful --so thankful-- for friends who pray ♥

=====
Update: Dad came home on Saturday - praise!
Good report - praise!
And feeling well - praise!
Thanks again for warrior-ing with us ♥

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

the heart of the matter

Please pray with me for my Dad? He is heading in for a heart cath this coming Friday, and as with everything for him health wise, it's a big deal. He's a miracle, has been for years upon years. We are trusting the Father (who loves Dad even more than we do) for His very best.

Trust with me? Thanks, friends ♥

Monday, May 16, 2016

more dragon-y goodness

Another Samuel sanctioned bit of verse to brighten up (or fire us up ^_~ ) for Monday♥

It's true I fried a knight or two--
I left them slightly toasted.
But dragons' caves are private homes--
We all have warnings posted.

We dragons are a peaceful lot--
You'll often find us dancing.
Those knights should take up violin
And stop with all this lancing.

I'd never roast a blacksmith, Judge,
I'd never grill a farmer.
Those knights attacked my humble lair
With swords and suits of armor.

They came at me with weapons drawn
To slice me full of gashes,
So what was I supposed to do
But burn them all to ashes?

It's clear that this was self-defense.
You know the knights conspired.
You've got to say I'm innocent--
Or else you might be fired!

"The Scales of Justice" by Jeff Mondak

Saturday, May 14, 2016

this very moment

That moment when you stop to read / hear / listen to the Father's heart, and the very thing -the very thing- that you have been asking, seeking for is answered. He knows and has known the deepest longing of your heart, those questions that are so beyond your own interpretation or answer, and He meets you there with so much more.

Bearing witness again this very moment to His great love and mercy and grace. Oh, my heart!

"Teach us, Dear Father, to serve You as You deserve;
to give and not to count the cost;
to fight and not to heed the wounds;
to toil and not to seek for rest;
to labor and not to ask for any reward
except that of knowing that we are with You.
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen"

Believing is seeing ♥

quote adapted from St Igatius of Loyola via EE

Friday, May 13, 2016

two more...

Well, now! To say that we are excited for the end of the school year would be a serious understatement. True, the sweetlings are currently in mourning for the end of all things activity-wise. Oh, the drama! Oh, the choir! Oh, the CBS! Oh, the piano! Oh, the soccer! Oh, the gymmies! "We are going to miss our friends, Mom, and we just CAN'T go MONTHS without seeing everyone!"

Ha! But the end of math? Of spelling? Of history? They are quite certain that they will survive these quite well. And so they shall. It has been a wonderful year here under the trees and, though this mommy heart of mine cannot believe that another year has passed so quickly, I am as ready as they are to call it a wrap.

So here's to two more weeks!
Happy Friday before the Friday before the last ♥

Saturday, May 7, 2016

out in the driveway

He's outside just now, standing in the driveway. His hands are tucked halfway into his pockets and he is staring off into the trees. His sermon notes are perched on the closed trunk of the car, and he is talking through the notes he has set down to share tomorrow. Every now and then he gestures, though his only congregants at the moment are Licorice our lab, a bird or two, and maybe a squirrel. It is easy to see that his heart is reaching out already to those who will be there listening tomorrow. Oh, it makes me smile to see him out there...

beautiful ♥
Isaiah 52 / Romans 10

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

sweet!

That moment when your littlest sweetling has a great need to be seen and her daddy realizes what her behavior is saying, so he calls out to her in his biggest voice. His joyful shout of her name echoes through the house, and she comes running to see what is up. She finds him in the kitchen, and he tells her that he is in need of a great big hug and that she is just the one to help...

Her face!

She knows that he understood just what her heart was saying, and she dives into his arms. Joy! So sweet ♥

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

for Isaac

We have a precious friend who is very sick tonight. His name is Isaac, and he is twelve years old. He has had lots of awful symptoms and has been dealing with them for about six weeks now. He's had lots of tests, and there have been no answers so far.

He is weary and discouraged today. His precious mom and dad and siblings are brokenhearted at his hurting, longing for him to feel better and for a return to daily days.

Isaac and his family know and love Jesus, and they are in need of prayer just now.
Will you lift them up with us, friends?

Thank you ♥

Friday, April 22, 2016

rain day

The rain on the heads of the spring bursting wheat
The puddles that splish and splash under feet

The sparkling bright drops gently rolling down leaves
On the slightly bent branches supported with ease

The many hued flowers gazing high to the sky
Drinking full freely, seem to grin and to sigh

The joy of a rain day here under the trees
rejoicing and dancing, a gorgeous reprieve


So thankful ♥

Thursday, April 21, 2016

preparation

"All of the past, I believe, is a part of God's story of each child of His --a mystery of love and sovereignty, written before the foundation of the world, never a hindrance to the task He has designed for us, but rather the very preparation suited to our particular need..."

Every step I have walked is His perfect prep for the next one I will take. O life in His hands is sweet, is joy, is so beautiful. I think of Paul (our current writer of study at CBS) who, no matter the circumstance, could see the moments of the gorgeous life that He was already living in Christ and, yes, the promise of his Master's face again one day soon.

It's the path. Eyes to the prize, yes, but don't miss that next step and the next. The Father is amazing there. He is more than enough there. He is perfect there. Walk on ♥

quote from EE

The rest is written with love and joy for my heart and for the heart of one for whom I am praying just now.
May these next days and months surprise you with peace and joy, laughter and love beyond anything
you have dreamed thus far. You are so loved - more than I could possibly ever express. May you know
it as surely as you know the One who has called you to live these days that you do not recognize. May
they be magnificent in Him ♥

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

when she says "Hey, Mom..."

Meredith and I were working together in the kitchen just a little while ago. As usual, she was emptying the dishwasher while I was working on projects and cleaning up after supper. She was listening to music on her phone with one ear bud in and one out, and I was quietly planning the rest of the week in my mind --when she said what have come to be two of my favorite words ever: "Hey, Mom..."

It's the gentle way she says those two little words together (combined with the power of that ellipsis) that gets me every time! I slow to still and quiet and tune my heart to listen to hers.

We spent about twenty (priceless!) minutes talking about everything from pirates (aye!) to plans for soon and for years from now. We laughed a lot and teared up a little, and she rolled her eyes at my inherent "Quinne-ness" as I enjoyed all things "Miss M".

Oh, the gift of living these days. To walk with my girl as she becomes, to be one that she seeks out for deeper relationship, to stand at the receiving point of that gentle phrase and then her heart ♥

Thursday, April 14, 2016

just a cute & funky small silk square

Earlier this evening Jamie and I rode over to check on a swarm of bees his dad caught today, and when we came in I sat down at my desk to find that one of the sweetlings had left something there for me. If you saw it you would probably recognize it as a scarf from yesteryear: crazy colors, wonderful fabric... but just a cute and funky small silk square.

I see it quite differently. I see it in her hair years ago when her hair was long and blond. She wore it with a tan leather jacket and a mini dress, and she was beautiful. I hear her laughing. I see her eyes light and then burst with a smile and so much love as she looks at me. And I miss her in my bones.

Sipping on a delicious cup of coffee as I write just now and wishing she could share it with me, my heart aches. Knowing what I know now (that I didn't have the faintest inkling of when she was still here), about a hundred questions pop to mind that I would love to ask her. To see her face, to study it as she watches my sweetlings, she would find such joy in loving them. She would effervesce in the way only she could, and they would be forever changed.

Taking a moment to breathe in the memories, so thankful, my heart is whispering her name. What a lovely thing the Father did when He made her. How blessed I am to have had the gift of her ♥


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

my sweet pirate, the queen

Meredith and her precious friends are sharing their production of "Blackboot's Lost Loot" this coming weekend. We will spend the next few days in glorious and furious pursuit of the best possible performance --times two.

The play is darling fun, the sweetlings are excited and quite funny, and the details are coming together. It has been a wonderful semester of drama adventure with Mrs B, and we are so thankful for all of the gifts and blessings the Father has tucked in.

Will you lift the cast and crew up with us for the remainder of this week and right on through Monday evening? Aye, ye say? Thanks so much, friends ♥

Blackboot's Lost Loot
by the Share Teen Drama Class
KMBC
April 17 at 3pm
April 18 at 1pm

Friday, April 8, 2016

Ila~cessities

If you find yourself on a Friday morning pulling out the sewing projects that you have stashed aside for a rainy day... and it's not raining, but you decide to attack the sewing projects anyway...

And you are a meager seamstress at best but by some miracle are yearning to bless your family by actually getting the projects done (or at least being able to say that you tried your best to attempt them)...

So you pull out the bundle of stuffed animals that need surgery, the comforter that your seven year old has adored since she was two which needs to be trashed after you take a portion of it to make a lovey, your darling husband's beekeeping glove which needs a patch so the little honey hoarders don't infiltrate the safety zone, your favorite jeans which are full of cool tears but now have one in the posterior portion which demands attention, and the blanket from your bed which needs a stitch in time or nine...

And after you unearth the much neglected basket of tools...

I highly recommend one more thing before you begin. Call Ila and ask her to come and sit with you and read her books. She will pack up her favorites, certain to include an adventure with a cat, and maybe some flowers, and a horse, and probably the beach. And she will read and read, and laugh, and stop to tell you a story here and there about some unrelated adventure of her own.

Friends, it will turn out to be the best thing you have done in a while, and I promise you will be looking forward to the next not so rainy day when you can pull out something to make a mess of sewing ♥

No animals stuffed or otherwise were harmed in the making of this day.
One piercing and a few sore fingertips were the day's only casualties ^_~

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

dragon-y goodness


Dragon for hire.
Comes with free fire.
Perfect for barbecues.

Skilled in smelting
and marshmallow melting.
What have you got to lose?

Expert home heater
and burglar eater.
No job to big or too small.

Cleans snow with ease.
Makes perfect grilled cheese.
Go on, just give me a call!

A Samuel discovery for the day - he thought
this was just about the best poem he has read
so far in his life ^_~ Hope you enjoy it, too ♥

"Dragon For Hire" by Julie Douglas

Saturday, April 2, 2016

will be

"Blessed is she 
who has believed
that what the Lord has said to her
will be accomplished." 
Luke 1:45

I have read this precious verse so many times! Each and every time, my thought has been, "How sweet! What a beautiful encouragement to Mary." Until just now. It occurs to me that Elizabeth's joyful message is a message for me, too (and for you).

God is faithful. In his power, love, mercy, and grace He has promised me much. I can rest because His faithfulness does not depend on me. This world and every single person in it belongs to Him, and it's very simple: He will have His way.

Likewise, I know that I am blessed when I believe. The promises He has made in His Word to each of us who loves Him, and the promises He has made to me, specifically, purposefully, personally. He knows. He remembers. He is present. He has promised.

O how He loves.
So blessed ♥

Monday, March 28, 2016

spaces

to breathe

to think

for different days

for quiet time

to rest

to dream

for planning

for play

to wonder

to sit still

for projects

for family time

to watch

to make some art

 Counting by "to"s and "for"s in the gentle spaces of this sweet, gorgeous spring break day. Thankful, so thankful: no plans, testing completed, eight weeks more. Time with them most of all ♥

Thursday, March 24, 2016

how could He?

"He could because He slept in the calm assurance that His Father was in control.

His was a quiet heart.

We see Him move through all the events of His life - when He was reviled, He did not revile in return. When He knew that He would suffer many things and be killed in Jerusalem, He never deviated from His course.

He had set His face like a flint.

He sat at supper with one who would deny Him and another who would betray Him, yet He was able to eat with them, willing even to wash their feet.

Jesus in the unbroken intimacy of His Father's love, kept a quiet heart."

=====

Oh, to have a determination like flint. To follow and trust and rest and love with a heart like His. Oh, keep a quiet heart. Know that the Father's will -will be. No matter what ♥

quote from EElliot

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

the secret

From my reading today...

"God came down and lived in this world as a man. He showed us how to live in this world, subject to its vicissitudes and necessities, that we might be changed -- not into an angel or a storybook princess, not wafted into another world, but changed into saints in this world. The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances."

More from EE on keeping a quiet heart ♥

Monday, March 21, 2016

questions...

Did I choose to love?

Did I point to You enough?

A child of mercy and grace who blesses
Your Name un-apologetically?

What marks my moments, my days?

Obedience? Faithfulness?

Kindness, gentleness, peace?
Love?

Thinking beyond the end of my nose today, asking ♥

Ty to NNordeman for the train!

Friday, March 18, 2016

what would I say?

I have spent the last few days watching my sweetlings (joy!) In a different place with gentle, fun daily days, I have the opportunity to see them anew. If I am careful and watchful, they are telling me their hearts all the time. There are no words to express what it means to me to be able to bear witness to their moments and days.

So, in this moment, right now, what would I say in reply?

The words of an old SCC song come to mind, and they are just perfect...

Never has there been and never again
Will there be another you
Fashioned by God's hand
And perfectly planned
To be just who you are
And what He's been creating
Since the first beat of your heart
Is a living breathing priceless work of art and
I can see the fingerprints of God
When I look at you...

All in wonder here ♥

Thursday, March 17, 2016

listing, listing

Everywhere I look this week there is a story! What a joy to see with fresh wide eyes. What a privilege. And I am scribbling away like mad as the ideas tumble and swell with the breeze and the water, the creatures, the sweetlings, the view and the sounds.

The heavens declare, and it makes me want to dance ♥
ref Psalm 19

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

the string of my kite

A fun little project with the sweetlings and our dear Mr Milne...

No one can tell me,
Nobody knows,
Where the wind comes from,
Where the wind goes.

It's flying from somewhere
As fast as it can,
I couldn't keep up with it,
Not if I ran.

But if I stopped holding
The string of my kite,
It would blow with the wind
For a day and a night.

And then when I found it,
Wherever it blew,
I should know that the wind
Had been going there too.

So then I could tell them
Where the wind goes...
But where the wind comes from
Nobody knows.

Hanging on and keeping watch as we do this adventure day ♥

"Wind on the Hill" by AA MIlne

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

sing - ho!

It's an adventure week for the sweetlings and me
Dipping our toes in the sand and the sea
Schooling away by the palmetto trees
Sing-ho! with the sweetlings and me.

So thankful ♥

Monday, March 14, 2016

the children know

Tipping our Monday hats to Mr Silverstein with a wink and a wave...

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind...

...yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

Have a happy bare toes and away we go day ♥

Thursday, March 10, 2016

sweet springtime ?!?

Imagine with me if you will... a perfectly "normal" morning.

And then your 7 year old sweetling, while working hard on her tasks for school, steps out the front door to check the weather for the calendar she keeps.

Upon exiting said door, she begins to scream in that glass-shattering falsetto that only little girls can manage.

Quickly re-entering the house, eyes popping, holding her nose, she belts out, "Why in dee WOLD does dee WHOLE WOLD smell like chickid heinies???"

Immediate chaos. The youngest, standing and stomping, furious and offended. The elder two nearly passed out from lack of oxygen while in complete hysterics, which makes the poor littlest one even more upset. The mom doing everything humanly possible to keep a straight face while racing to the door to close it... so sorry for the little one, trying not to roar with laughter with the older sweetlings, eyes burning from said aromatic atrocity, thinking this may be spot on commentary to the primary elections...

Life in the country is the real deal, man!
And fashion week just cannot hold a candle to fertilizer week.

Waiting for the wind to turn, o yezzz ♥

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

not a day

"God loves us with an everlasting love. He is unutterably merciful and kind, and sees to it that not a day passes without the opportunity for new applications of the old truth of becoming a child of God."

What an encouragement this is! Though it does challenge me to consider just how many opportunities I have missed. As a result of attitude? selfishness? pride? simply not seeing Him?

How grateful I am that "not a day passes" and that He is faithful, so faithful, always ♥

quote from EE

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

teach us

"It is reasonable to believe that the One who made the world and us who live in it is willing to teach us how to live. He became flesh in order to show us, day by day as He walked the lanes of Galilee and the streets of Jerusalem, how to live in company with God.

Lord, give to me a quiet heart
That does not ask to understand,
But confident steps forward in
The darkness guided by Thy hand."

I find that I, too, would call myself a slow learner (as the author refers to herself in the text following the above quote). I pray that as the years seem to be advancing at an ever increasing pace, the Father will turn my yearning to become in ever more earnest to His own heart ♥

quote from EE

Monday, March 7, 2016

here for

Nothing else comes close to being as important in life as learning to know God. It's what we're here for. We are created to glorify Him as long as we live on this planet and to enjoy Him for the rest of eternity.

Our task is simply to trust and obey.

This is what it means to love and worship Him ♥

from my EE today

Friday, March 4, 2016

in light

Over these past weeks and months and in light of what we have seen so far in the Presidential race, I have found myself worrying and wondering, desperate for peace and an answer.

The Father placed Daniel's prayer in my path again last fall in answer to my heart's cry.

And yesterday morning? This...

Seek the
Lord while he may be found;
    call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
    and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
    and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
"As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.   Isaiah 55:6 – 11

And then this morning...

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”   Joshua 1:9

His word. His power. His promises. His timing. His world.

His grace. His faithfulness. His love.
Our peace ♥