Bending

I open wire gate, walk through tiny garden and white azaeleas toward the kitchen. Her soft, croaky voice, with it’s high notes, weathered with time, wafts out the screen door as she instructs the children that have already flown inside to her, ahead of me.

This is not the home of my childhood that I remember, but she cooks for us here and makes her days here, and so it will do.

Dumplings and chicken piled high in the pot, the steam rising, she’s slightly bent over the counter in the tightly spaced kitchen, beautiful white hair slightly coifed from church that morning, rolling dough out in flour, the dough that my grandfather said she rolled way too thin. Less meat, more dumplins, he tells her. This would become the center of discussion and debate at the table.

“Ah! You are making chicken and dumplings!” She nods–I see the twinkle of pride in her eyes. She knows it’s my favorite and I had asked for it weeks ago when I was sick but she couldn’t come because she was too.

I set about the hard task of putting myself right into the work, a hard thing to do when you are used to your Granny always waiting on you, for all those years, and she never asked, really always discouraged help.

But I can’t bear sitting while she bends and breaks, so I plant myself right in her way and throw the soft unbaked bread on white powder and roll it out with 50 year old wood, careful of the sink water two inches away from floured paper.

The old wood, full of family history–it feels perfect in my hands and I watch the way the thick stuff flattens and smooths. We work side-by-side, Sunday afternoon sun streaming in through screen door, hitting our backs, and she willingly waits for the dough, throws it into boiling broth while I do the bending and smoothing.

She and I strain pears, that good juice running down the drain making no sense to me, and I call the girls in for them to pile the grainy sweetness on plate with mayo and cheese. The pears, they shine in the Sabbath sun. We do the most important and holiest of work and teach them a poor man’s {or hurried woman’s} Southern dessert.

I go to the hall closet in search of some stain remover for baby’s dress, and I see a woman’s tireless work, how she chooses to walk out her days, always working, serving, never giving up and there they are, staring out at me–clean, plush towels lined up neatly row after row, her bottles of cleaning supplies tucked in here and there. She has touched deep places of influence in me she will never know anything of.

In the kitchen, we cluck and cackle and over sweet tea–has the sugar been added?–where the children will eat, girls, set the table, ice for glasses, and I take Granddaddy’s tea to his chair. The kids will have the little table in the kitchen.

Granny steps to the living room, and addresses Granddaddy: “What do you want now?!” We laugh at their old-couple squabble and we all gather around with trays and talk important matters, including whether the dumplings should have been thicker, and our stomachs are nourished with flavors of the South, that soul food warm all the way down.

Granny gets enough of Granddaddy’s complaining and in her feisty way, tells him she was aimin for healthier.

After the plates are cleaned, Husband needs a t-shirt for football with the church men, and Granddaddy says look in the second drawer. Underneath several bottles of cologne for a man who enjoys smelling good, I open drawer and pick up soft, worn t-shirts one by one, reminded of when I was a little girl, needing a t-shirt for staying over-night. They all say XL, and I know that will not fit my man.

I search and in the back, in shadows, a card with cute purses on the front sticks out between folds–I know immediately it was the card I gave him years ago. My heart hammers a little harder as I hold it up, open it, and I am so touched that he has kept it safely tucked away in his drawerthe place all men keep things close to their hearts.

The greatness of these two people stands above me, looming, but I try to tell them in scrawled words–loops and crosses a little unsure and timid but knowing what is in the heart to say–how I sit and think sometimes of the beauty of how they live out the gospel in their livesthat they may never have been missionaries, or involved in some limelight ministry, but their family has been their mission field–how they never stop giving even after they’ve given all–they have fleshed out Matt 5:38-42–how they have brought glory to God, our very realest purpose, and I tell them this is the greatest compliment you could ever be paid.

“You have heard it said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” –Matthew 5:38-42

Husband finds me standing at the drawer, asks if I found anything. He sees the tears brimming, wants to know what this is about. I show him the card and he says, “Who is this from?” He watches my eyes, looks into me. Nothing gets his attention like the wet pouring down his wife’s cheeks.

A little shyly–“Me.” I pick up a bottle of cologne and inhale, and try to remember.

He reads the first few lines and skims it over, smiling. He reads the date, “2007…” his voice a little unsteady. I wonder if he is remembering the year that we had Isabella, when we were still at our old church with our beloved Pastor and his wife, when we were married to a church body, before spiritual devastation happened, when life was very, very good and God’s graces flowed abundantly. Like babes, we ignorantly lapped it up, not fully knowing what we had.

I reach up into the closet shelf where a soft blue t-shirt, something close to cadet blue, peeks out and I look at the tag, oh, a Large, this will have to do.

I walk into the living room, right up to the man and hand him the card, tell him it made me cry to find it there, to read it, bend down and take his face in my hands and tell him he is a wonderful Granddaddy, my body bent over and my heart bent over in all this weeping reality, all this gospel light, all this love.

Instead of looking at me and acknowledging, he makes some remark about how not everybody thinks he’s so great. But I know it’s hit it’s mark–right there in the softness of his heart the arrow pierced–I can see that little bit of twinkle in his eye, the smile dancing in the corner, that he won’t let have center-stage.

He avoids my eyes, but I know he hears me. These are the only words he ever wanted to hear in the whole of his life.

I lay down in the dark coolness of their room with baby girl next to me, and she fidgits some, but like me, her body soon gives way to Granny’s high thread-count sheets, shadow’s cool of blankets piled high atop us.

I lie there thinking as I drift off, how many graces God has given, how He has bent low and heard me, listened to my heart’s cry, that mighty God himself would bend over, heart exploding for me, this is extravagant grace that I can hardly imagine or fully allow.

But in spite of me, His arrow has hit it’s mark and I gush over and out and I can do nothing but fling arms open wide to all this love.

Gratitude:

#630 picnic and badmitton in backyard orchestrated by oldest daughter–cold fried chicken, carrots and turkey sandwiches

#631 planting flowers with my girls

#632 a teaching moment–explaining a bit of horticulture to the girls–how you always know the best soil to plant anything in–dark and full of earthworms

#633 Ivy’s reaction: “What are earthworms?” and the lesson continues…

#634 Ivy’s attempt at repeating what she’s learned–“There are neutrons in the ground? What if the earthworms eat it all up nad there’s none left for the flowers?”

#635 washing down porch and thinking of my Mama–how she loved everything clean and enjoyed working, how I’m like her, dirty and wet in my flip-flops

#636 a weekend trip–just the six of us–to the science center, and enjoying precious, peaceful moments, how I was able to handle keeping the children calm, digging into serving, that I’m better and Husband had a helper

#637 powerful flare-up of chronic illness while on our trip–not being able to fully enjoy this glimpse of a time away–coming home with a cloud hanging over us–hard eucharisteo–thanking Him for healing anyway because all things are in His time and Sovereign God knows…

#638 seeing God’s healing in ways I wouldn’t have expected or wanted: in withdrawing, in slowing down, in saying no to more demands and yes to more of what He’s already put right in front of me–my family

#639 little Lilly’s hands exploring and fingering my skin as she lies next to me, how her silky hands soothe me and how my baby’s touch is so therapeutic

#640 me and Ivy going shopping for flowers, a girl’s day just for the two of us, and how much fun it was to be together

#641 me and the girls making a grace garden together…

#642 Husband coming outside after sending the girls for me twice, mildly frustrated, waving the spatula and asking for help with children gone wild while he’s trying to cook…oh, the joys of a large family…may as well give thanks and bask in the beautiful–not the grueling and ugly–work of it…

#643 Lorna wanting to stay outside and clean up, washing soil off of brick steps while I go into the house to help Husband with children

#644 new slate tiles on kitchen counters after several years of no countertops

#645 blogging friend, Michele, that helps me with homeschooling, helps guide me, who even considers hopping a flight to give me a hug and sit with me while we sort through curriculum choices, how she is a complete God-send

#646 Ro, her special friendship to me, how God dropped this special friend and mentor into my lap~~extravagant grace!

#647 this blogging community, grace-filled people, for Ann, who brought us all together…how this community has been the body of Christ to me and I love them passionately, how God has poured into me through them and lavished His love upon me…

#648 An exhausting Sunday morning service, exhausting because I cried out desperately to God at the altar…at the end of all the pouring out, greeting people, treading deep waters, going where it is uncomfortable for me to go, and encouraging others, there is nothing of me left and all of Him…this I desperately seek You for Lord, more of You, more love to You, and less of me…

#649 a beautiful Sabbath, full of warm weather and bright sun upon skin

#650 ckicken and dumplings and pear salad

#651 the way the children run into Granny and Granddaddy, excited to be there with them…

#652 how little Lilly throws herself into Granddaddy’s lap and loves to rock with him

#653 A Granny and Granddaddy that love me so wild

#654 watching Husband quick on his feet, running and playing hard football on vacant field with our church men

#655 us all coming home bone tired, dumping children in beds, and time alone with Husband

#656 a beautiful woman’s words as she prayed for me at the altar, “Father, your Word is marrow to our bones and nourishment to our navel. Like a little baby being formed in the womb, we don’t know what’s happening to us, Lord, but we know You are doing something.”

A glorious song, maybe one of the most beautiful ever written…take a look, I promise it won’t be a waste of time…soak in His glory, friend…I cannot get enough of this song…

Shared with sweet Ann and others at…

L.L….

On In Around button

Laura…

Jen…

and Michelle…

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My Heart’s Cry to Heaven {and A Blogger’s Prayer}

I lay in our high four-poster bed, and everything is swirling around. I can’t sleep, eyes hurting and heavy in mid-afternoon–the anxiety threatens to break me–and I moan and let the tears stream, let them break open past the lump in throat, let the trapped burn escape.

I bury my head in feather pillow, the soft brown cotton catching the wet, the words and voices circulating in my head relentless. Husband hears, comes and holds me and talks to me. I tell him it’s happening again, and oh, the frustration of it.

How did I get here again? I have no idea. Why am I so weak?

I don’t want to be drowned in a sea of confusion, a hopeless tossing of words, phrases, voices, too many voices, and screens, too many screens buzzing, my constant typing on the black keys, lined up in a  shiny plastic row. They click at me and give me no history, no story.

When I look at the screen, there is no one there. Just words, just letters, advertisements and lights making my brain forget how to sleep. When I step away from the click-clicking of the keyboard, I can still hear it, the humming, the whirring, running, on and on it goes.

I walk across pine floors and I forget to notice the gorgeous light. I’ve forgotten the beauty of a story told on paper, bound and handed down between covers, the words kept for safe-keeping to be whispered quietly only between me and the Lord in the morning light.

When it all boils down and I’m left with the bottom , the pit of myself and mankind–what really matters?

There are too many voices, too many deadlines, too much rush and hurry, too many demands to meet, too much worry, too much reaching for me, hands grasping.

Where is God’s voice in all of that? Because I can’t hear it.

My heart is fragile and weak, it is easily swayed, weighed down with the cares of this world, and I am quickly overwhelmed and taken like a tsunami crashing over me.

I want to give my life for my Savior King.

If there is to be a tsunami, Oh Lord, wash over me, overtake me like the consuming mighty ocean, it’s waters heavy and drenching, bending me, and burn me up with Your three times hotter holy flame. Consume me in the fires of your love that cannot be quenched.

Hold my hand as you stand in the flames with me. Here I want to powerfully, wrecklessly be lost in You. Here in Your deep lake of fire, I will swim and pray that You will come rescue me. Completely take me, wash me clean, relentlessly pouring and crashing over and over and over me.

My heart is weak, and I need you, oh, desperately how I need you. If there are to be swirling thoughts and voices that won’t stop, Lord that it would be your voice circulating, permeating the synapses. Let me awake with Your holy voice calling my name relentless.

Let me not be able to get away from it, let me not escape You, when I rise with the sun, at mid-morning and again when I prepare lunch, when I sit outside in your creation while children run free and when I sit to consume the bread you’ve given and when I light the Lenten candle, when I lay head on pillow at night.

Lord, pursue me, Hound of Heaven, come hot and heavy after me, my thoughts haunted by you, my every waking moment pricked with awareness of you and my sleeping moments laid upon your pillow of grace, covered and cloaked in the blanket of Your wings.

Father, pursue me between the pages of books, descend upon me heavy as I teach my children Your ways, wash over me, bending me beneath the weight of Your glory as I bend to correct them, consume me with Your presence in the red letters of Jesus’ words as I read in soft, early light, prick my heart with your holiness as I prepare meals, as I meditate on You, and follow hard after me as I serve Husband’s needs, and never stop chasing me as I tap out words, only let the words pour pure as You separate the gold from the trash in Your holy fire.

And Father, teach me the meaning of these words, words that sweet Ann spoke:

“All art is a call to come to an altar, to come lay down and die to self. So be it. He is enough.”

         {An excerpt from Ann Voskamp’s prayer, called A Blogger’s Prayer}:

“I am no longer my own blogger, but Thine.

Refine me with each post how You will, rank me how You will.

Put me to service, or put me to suffering.

Let me be a follower, instead of seeking followers

Let me post for thee or be put aside for thee,

Lifted high, only for thee, or brought low, all for thee.”


          Go HERE to read the full Blogger’s Prayer and get your own “Upside Down Blogger” button.

{An absolutely gorgeous song of worship–Savior King–you don’t want to miss this! Worth the few minutes to watch. A God-glorifying display of corporate worship–watch a few times and let God fill you up, just wash over and over and over you, friend!!}

{A little dose of honesty and testimony? I had no idea what to write this morning, I wasn’t even going to join in the counting this week due to exhaustion–I prayed and asked God to guide me and to use what I write to bring Him glory only…and this story and prayer poured out of me. I saw the Blogger’s Prayer as I had never seen before! All for HIS glory!!}

Gratitude:

#608 A work day at the church and a couple hours spent there during a rare day date

#609 How it brought us closer–horizontally and vertically–gave us joy to serve

#610 How Husband said he was glad I convinced him to go even though he was tired–how we push one another constantly toward God and others–the beauty and glory of marriage God has blessed

#611 How this pushing toward God and loving others fulfills the two greatest commandments–and I wonder if maybe the Holy Spirit is speaking to one another through us? Oh, the beautiful mystery

#612 How Ivy runs to the door everytime, just at the last second when I’m heading down steps, even more than once, for a kiss and to say “bye, Mama. I love you.”

#613 These sweet memories I will hold in my heart forever

#614 An email from a lovely friend telling me to not even write back, just to see the silver lining of all of us being sick, gather up my girls wrapped in blankets, watch movies, and drink something hot–and that is just what I did and will do more often when we aren’t sick

#615 Lovely emails, warm comments from friends that make the heart toasty inside

#616 Ivy asking if she can pray for Lilly when she is sick, my nod, and her going over to her, laying hands and asking for God to heal

#617 Our new vehicle, finally here! Now I can take the girls to free classes, on field trips with the group, and to the doctor!

#618 How Lilly won’t talk, just “Mmm, mmm”‘s at us constantly and we laugh happy over our baby

#619 Knowing she’s only this small once

#620 Knowing deep-down that God will take care of her, that she will eventually talk–if you are reading this, would you pray?

#621 Our home, a roof over our head

#622 Me learning to really make it home, a peaceful, safe place, not just a place of no rest for the weary

#623 Ivy’s prayer at the supper table–her thanking God for everyone in her sweet voice–Mama, Daddy, sisters, and everything we’ve been given–a long list–this reminder from an angel child

#624 Being blessed financially so that we will soon be able to finish our kitchen–{I will finally have cabinets!}, make some badly-needed home repairs, close in and build the school room (!!), and buy all schooling needs–all praise to God!

#625 Ordering books, all kinds of lovely books!

#626 Husband and I sitting huddled on swing, warm blanket wrapped around us, drinking coffee in early morning–the only thing our voices and the song of the birds

#627 Staying home for Sabbath rest

#628 The medicine of a good clean comedy, Husband and I laughing together hard

#629 Surrendering to the season God has called forth in my life–staying in while the pollen stirs–trying to get well–writing less, just listening quietly to Him–oh, this is hard. Might you pray for me,
friends?

And how perfect it is–writing about feeling overwhelmed–and Ann has a beautiful Joy-In-A-Box over at her place today–a gift to cheer someone in need of joy, to cheer you in the giving, for the overwhelmed ones…

Join the JOY DARE with us? Click here to learn more…

Shared in community with sweet Ann and others at…

L.L….

On In Around button

Laura…

Jen…

and Michelle…

On An Alluding Lent, Identity In Christ, and Idols

“If you shut yourself away from life and the children, everything your heart is tied to, and you bang your head against the wall to write something beautiful, it won’t work–your soul will be empty and you will have nothing to write about. But get outside with the children, live life, work, serve, and then it will pour out of you onto the screen.”–Mr. Simmons

Here I am, laid bare. Sometimes it seems as if my writing life will take over everything, like the blob.

A couple of days ago, Ivy came to me at the computer, and in her run-on speak asked, “Mama, it’s a beautiful day outside, and it’s warm and it’s really nice, and we’re all dressed and our room is clean–can we go outside and play?”

“Shh…Mama’s busy. Not now. Yes, we can go later. I’m almost done.” I shoot her a quick half-hearted smile. I feel a piece of my soul snatched away, torn.

A while later she comes back, asks again. Shes does this a few times. Finally, she tells me, “You are going to be on there forever–you’ve been saying that all morning.” Wow. Conviction’s arrows pierce my heart, before I can let my soul be completely torn apart–God in His grace, steers me back to Him, to wholeness. I tell her yes, we will go outside. She dashes off like lightening.

The insides burn, how can I be so cruel to these little ones–just needing me, just needing freedom, just needing life? Just the other day, we were dancing, now here we are again–going over and over the same miserable lesson–when will I ever learn? Oh, I am not adequate to this task–someone better than me should do this job–that God gave them to me to take care of and to usher into His light–I feel so unworthy.

I feel the weight of my desire, my idol encroaching, crushing, pulling me down to the depths.

Maybe this is the perfect time for a Lenten fast, because I can’t breathe and I can’t escape this driving force to be more, to be good enough, to be better, to be validated, to have higher numbers, to be known and yet, the adrenaline surges and anxiety siezes and I’m scared to death, quaking in my boots to be known.

The dream to be a writer–that has always been there–seems to have come on full force now that I’ve fully entered my thirties–like an angry bull let out of a pen into arena.

That bull, he is really afraid–he doesn’t like being cornered–he doesn’t at all like to feel threatened–it makes him angry and a force to be reckoned with.

And here I am, getting older, and nothing to show for it–and I feel threatened–feel not good enough. And I am a force to be reckoned with–only this bull is not in the arena–he is in the china shop–and my sweet children, they take the hardest blows against their china hearts when Mama forgets to have a servant’s humility pumping through her veins and wants to serve her own balloon-filled-with-helium-desires.

And I wonder, who am I?

What defines me? Being a mediocre writer, a dabbling artist, a not-good-enough-singer {who now only sings in the shower}, runner who comes in nearly last in every race, an almost nursing student, beauty school drop-out, mommy in pajamas with four children hanging about my legs? Is that me?

Which title says I’m good enough? Which do people accept?

Oh, the weight of my human sin. MY sin, and that of no one else. Mine is the one God whispers to me about–when I think on others’ and not mine, it’s someone else whispering. And what I hear God saying, is this sin of mine, how it bogs, how it drags me beneath the drowning, tumultuous currents, without me realizing.

My insecurities–which are really just pride with a mask on–they cause me to run hard and fast after things to fulfill my empty identity. And this idol of mine, my writing, it is exactly that for me.

And God is saying to me, “Daughter, my precious child, look to me. Don’t pay any attention to what others say about you–keep your focus on Me–in Me, you will find all you need, all you desire, all joy and peace and yes, even peace with yourself–because in Me, wrapped up in Me, is the only place you will find your identity.”

I read this on Robin’s site, {hover over words and click to see her post} and it struck me: “He is my best form of identification – He declares my identity and legitimacy when the world is screaming about my lack.”

Thoughts about identity and idols had been circulating in my mind, ever since a late-night talk with Husband and ever since a friend had asked me to write at one of her sites–and this friend is well-known–and this scared me senseless, and at the same time gave me all sorts of {false} hopes for the future–making me a balled mess of fear, rapture, anxiety, frustration, elation and gratefulness with a bit of daunting failure and accomplishment thrown all in at once.

I did not even write back at first–and what deep-seeted fears run so rampant in the dark caverns of me that I would treat this angel of a friend so rudely? I finally wrote and accepted, and tried hard at being gracious. All of this brought me to question: What am I–upside down blogger in an upside down kingdom with humility and aim only to serve and love, or am I  just another hat trying to find a hook on which to hang, hoping to gain numbers, get published and win?

Is this just a place to BE someone? To find a title that says I’m worth something?

Writing has pushed me, jolted me with electric current, said, “Wake up!”, and God has used it to show me my real heart. And the answer that God has wanted me to find–not in my head, but in my heart–is this: my best identification is Christ, as my new friend Robin so cleverly wrote.

“Your true identity is as a child of God. This is the identity you have to accept. Once you have claimed it and settled in it, you can live in a world that gives you much joy as well as pain. You can receive the praise as well as the blame that comes to you as an opportunity for strengthening your basic identity, because the identity that makes you free is anchored beyond all human praise and blame. You belong to God, and it is as a child of God that you are sent into the world. “

Henri J. M. Nouwen
Nouwen Centre

“The truth, even though I cannot feel it right now, is that I am the chosen child of God, precious in God’s eyes, called the Beloved from all eternity and held safe in an everlasting embrace… We must dare to opt consciously for our chosenness and not allow our emotions, feelings, or passions to seduce us into self-rejection.”

Henri J. M. Nouwen
Nouwen Centre

“He has great tranquillity of heart who cares neither for the praises nor the fault-finding of men. He will easily be content and pacified, whose conscience is pure. You are not holier if you are praised, nor the more worthless if you are found fault with. What you are, that you are; neither by word can you be made greater than what you are in the sight of God.”

Thomas a Kempis
Biography and Works

And this is how God fills the soul-holes, and repairs the torn away soul pieces that I myself have ripped, and He brings me to wholeness–this is how He fills my empty identity to the brim: He adopted me into His family, He has become my real Father, and has told me that I am His daughter, I am a co-heir with Christ, and I can call Him Abba, Daddy.

So through sickness going ’round this house relentless, and financial confusion, and Lent’s plans alluding me, the big dreams I had for it unfulfilled, I ask myself, how can I best fast for Lent? With Easter quickly approaching, what one way can I truly, with everything I have, honor my Savior?

How can little hearts and big hearts alike best prepare for such a life-abundant event–how can we till the hard ground of our hearts and make soil ready to receive the glorious, beautiful promise of the resurrection power and all He has given, made rightly our’s through His blood sacrifice?

And here is the hard part: for me, it is in withdrawing into Him, into quieter, more still moments of reflection. It is in fasting from the thing I love the most–my writing.

In giving more time to my children, in bending down and inclining my ear to their petitions, their requests, yes, their demands and their teasing laughter–I will be entering into the glory of God.

In allowing myself rest and recuperating from illness, I am leaning on Him, obeying and surrendering to the season He has called forth, and in stepping away from buzzing screens and outside into the marvelous light of His creation, I am bringing Him honor and praise with my time.

My prayer is that in my frailty, He can make something out of nothing in this Lent season.

{Just for a different perspective, I like the way The Message talks about identity in Christ}:

“But when the time arrived that was set by God the Father, God sent his Son, born among us of a woman, born under the conditions of the law so that he might redeem those of us who have been kidnapped by the law. Thus we have been set free to receive our rightful heritage. You can tell for sure that you are now full adopted as his own children because God sent the spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, “Papa! Father!” Doesn’t that privelege of intimate conversation with God make it plain that you are not a slave, but a child? And if you are a child, you’re also an heir, with complete access to the inheritance.”–Galatians 4:3-7; The Message

“I am His by purchase and I am His by conquest; I am His by donation and I am His by election; I am His by covenant and I am His by marriage; I am wholly His; I am peculiarly His; I am universally His; I am eternally His. Once I was a slave but now I am a son; once I was dead but now I am alive; once I was darkness but now I am light in the Lord; once I was a child of wrath, an heir of hell, but now I am an heir of heaven; once I was Satan’s bond-servant but now I am God’s freeman; once I was under the spirit of bondage but now I am under the Spirit of adoption that seals up to me the remission of my sins, the justification of my person and the salvation of my soul.”

Thomas Brooks
Brief Biography

I won’t be gone completely, friends. I will still be counting 1,000 gifts, just giving less time to writing and screens and more to family, prayer, God’s creation…

Some other posts by beautiful, brave women who inspired me to step on out and write on my ponderings…Dolly@Soul Stops, Jennifer Camp @You Are My Girls, Mary Leigh@ BlueCottonMemory, Michelle@ A Surrendered Life, Roseann@ Tuning My Heart, Michelle@ Graceful and Jen@ Finding Heaven
You will be MUCH blessed to visit these ladies’ posts–this, THIS is honesty and beautiful hearts reaching for HIM!

This post shared in community with:

sweet Ann…

whimsical Tracy…


the lovely kd…
JourneyTowardsEpiphany
and beautiful Jennifer…

Little Ballerinas

Papers scattered, computer on my lap, soft couch cushion underneath, I look at the little faux fire blazing and type away, lost in a sea of cyber-words. Four year old Bella’s large blue-orbed eyes find mine, grounding me, and she asks, “Mama, will you come play ballerina with me?” My legs crossed indian-style, a smile playing on my lips at her angel cuteness, I tell her yes, in just a minute.

When I finish writing to a friend, I walk into their room, toys strewn about, pine floor barely peeking through. “I’m ready to play ballerina now. What should I do?”

“You be the teacher, Mama. Yes, you have to wear a ballerina outfit like us, a teacher-ballerina outfit.” Excitement lifts them up on their toes, and their voices jump decibals higher. I laugh at them, and tell them the first thing to do is to pick up all the toys so we have room to dance, and I will be back.

So feeling extremely silly, I go find tights, a slip-skirt, and black leotard-like top. Their eyes shine when they see me and when I turn and twirl into their room, clapping my hands and calling, “Okay, class, line up” in a sing-song soprano, they little-girl giggle and I see them really looking at me, in a new light. Their innocence betrays them and their fresh God-image faces reflect rapturous joy and that I must be doing something right.

I put in Handel’s Messiah and I have them to plie’ and do stretches on the bar and I spin and teach them a dance. They go leaping through the air. The early morning sun’s rays catch them in all their beauty–just in this one moment, this moment that will never return.

I have never felt sillier nor have I ever felt more free.

I go over to the player at their request and we play “Musical Ballet”. When I stop the music, they are frozen in their lifts and little girl twirls, and this is a perfectly freeze-framed moment for a mama.

Time really does seem to stop. 

They hold hands, all four of them, and they go ’round and ’round in the neverending circle of sunrise’s gleaming hope, it streaming across their faces. The shadows fall but I don’t see the shadows–I only see their souls radiating and shining light, and it makes them so alive.

It bedazzles me and I’m enthralled because I don’t know how it happened, but I am caught up in the way a dimple beams at me, the way a soft cheek captures warmth right there, the way Lorna’s wavy golden locks waterfall over her small framed shoulders, glinting light glorious.

In our crazy kid-energy afforded by play, I sat on the little woven rug in front of the dollhouse and helped them shine it new, and glued down miniature furniture so tiny hands could not break it–a love-project put off for many months.

When we were finished, my daughters were so proud and I was proud too, to call myself Mama.

We tasted contentment’s sweet milk and it delighted us and we drank in the nourishment at joy’s swelled hope.

We danced wild, laughing, letting the morning carry us smoothly along right through freedom’s doors into wide-open joy.

Gratitude:

#584 How when I ask Bella to help Lilly into her boot, she says, “I can’t–I promise, because I’m just a little girl.”

#585 How Bella furrows her brow at me, “Mama, Ivy slapped me on my ankle,” holding up her elbow, and I absent-mindedly lift up the elbow of my sink-water drenched shirt, she says, “No, Mama, not your ankle, MY ankle!”

3 ugly-beautifuls gifts…
#586 taking care of sick children
#587 with Hubs sick, eldest daughter helps
#588 germy, dirty house now sparkling

3 gifts from the past–that help me trust the future…
#589 relationships in church body mended–stepping out on a limb trusting Him to catch me
#590 hurts in family past getting some healing
#591 my favorite book, old and tattered, given by my Grandma, being the first read-aloud the girls and i do together, taking turns

a gift dull, a gift shimmering, a gift cleaned…
#592 antique table given by Granny showing wear and marks from children as I snap a picture of little hands grabbing cinnamon rolls
#593 beautiful floral designed diamond engagement ring given by Husband
#594 knit blanket washed and couch scrubbed, floors shiny for sister to come over to watch nieces while me and Husband go on day-date

3 gifts at 3 p.m…
#595 warm, soft breezy day,
#596 blanket on the porch w kids piled up & popcorn,
#597 me on the swing writing my thanks

#598 Ivy’s reverent whisper of conviction as she stares out to the yard,”It’s a beautiful day today.”

3 gifts green…glorious signs of Spring!
#599 thick clover in the backyard

#600 shoots of life coming up in pots

#601 tiny buds on my favorite spring tree blooming

3 gifts wore…
#602 turquoise studded silver bracelet given by Granny
#603 soft, comfy scarf given by sister
#604 gorgeous shirt gifted to Husband that looks smashing on him!

3 gifts hard to give thanks for…
#605 making it on very little these past few weeks until our finances get worked out–being creative with making money stretch
#606 muddy, swampy back yard, rain making green life come up, me and girls sloshing around in rainboots and clogs
#607 nice, huge pile of tree limbs from tree that fell in yard to make a bonfire–smores makings bought, weinies, drinks, and wood too wet to burn–so we take our smores inside to the stove and happily eat up

If you would like to join the JOY DARE? click here for more info, a beautiful camera giveaway, and a gorgeous free printable from Ann…

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Aching for the Sunrise–A prayer {Five Minute Fridays}

“So we take five minutes on Friday and write like we used to finger paint. For joy in the process. No matter how messy the result.”–Lisa Jo

I’m joining Lisa-Jo and the community of women over at Gypsy Mama today for writing like I used to fingerpaint–just for fun, no editing, no over-thinking, no back-tracking!

Our one-word prompt: ACHE.

GO.

I ache for my children to rise and call me blessed.

I ache for the sunrise to find me in pure joy.

I want to be the kind of woman when her feet touch the floor in the morning, Satan says, “She’s up!”

I want to touch feet to floor and the first thing I think of is not coffee, but “Good morning, Father.”

Some mornings He catches me off guard and He is there so powerfully beside me that all I can do is catch my breath and let a gentle greeting slip out.

And in my humanness, of course I ask Him to help me with my day. He already knows I need the help. No need hiding it from Him.

I pray He comes and He stays with me. I need Him here so desperately. My heart aches and my soul longs for thee, Oh God, only for Thee.

I am scared to take the next breath without You. None of this works without you. Rescue me.

Wake me with the sunrise. Teach my children to follow after thee.

STOP.

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