Category Archives: homemaking

God Is Not Threatened When We Leave the Church

{An Abstraction on Lipstick}

 

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It happened standing in Wal-Mart with my daughters. I was buying a lipstick and rubbed the pretty coral color that I fell in love with onto my lips. I didn’t notice the brand–that smell. That’s when the memories came flooding in. Memories of being the focus of ridicule at a school in a whole new state, the memories of the poems left on my desk that said “She wears socks with her clogs in winter. She’s in a bubble and thinks no one can reach her, because her Daddy’s a preacher,” and they giggled at me as I turned red and crumbled up the loose-leaf paper taken from one of their cute binders. But there are darker ones.

Dark memories of a 21 year old youth pastor, who came into the sanctuary when I was playing piano and put his lips on me, held me from behind. He befriended my father, came over to the house, and when we went downstairs to play ping-pong, he forced me to sit on his lap.

And the hits seemed to keep coming. I became chronically ill after having my fourth child. And there were people in the church who wanted to pray for me one Sunday. I made it known that I didn’t want it, that I felt uncomfortable with such a spotlight on me. They assured me it was fine, and it was in the midst of this prayer circle that I was told there wasn’t grace for this sickness, this depression, this anxiety, and that God was asking me to please come back home, to come back to where grace abounded for me.

I recoiled at this. Because I knew that God had not left me and I had not left him and the last thing I needed was for someone in the church to tell me that my illness was because I had done something wrong. The insinuation was that it was a direct result of my having left God. But I knew then, and I know now– that none can pluck me from His hand. It’s not possible.

I did feel very far away from God, and what I needed at that moment in my life was for someone to gently remind me that God was still with me and loved me beyond imagination.

That day left me aching, a hole wide-open in my soul, cold bitter wind blowing through. It left me confused about prayer, and unable to utter any words toward heaven. Prayer had been a means, as far as I could see, to hurt others. And I became bitter and maybe I let my words sting, too, because all I could see was people who wanted to hurt me.

I could tell you more stories–I have lots of them. I could tell you about a time my husband and I were asked by the pastor to be elders  because he was leaving and the church needed someone to help run things in his absence. We hesitated, but we loved our pastor, so we agreed. A short time later, we found out that the leadership of the church had sorely treated our pastor, and was the cause of him leaving. Our hearts were broken. We resigned, left the church, and never looked back. But we won’t talk more of that.

What I want to tell you is that because of a lifetime of those memories, my husband and I have chosen to take a time for healing……

{to read the rest of this post, please come on over to Outside the City Gate— I’m over there today, and I have more to share with you….}

{concrete words link-up is below}

 

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Photo credit: Church and steeple: Cindee Snider Re 

Holding hands: Kelli Woodford

Okay, time for #concretewords! ***Will you do this with me, friends? Let’s explore the practice of Awakening to God–this still ties into listening–writing out our story with words that show, not just tell. We’ll connect on twitter and facebook with the hashtag, #concretewords,  #listeningtoyourlife and also #awakeningtoGod if you like. Do me a favor and use these on social media and share with friends–invite them? Writing alone is no fun–but writing in community? Well, THAT is the stuff!

What this link-up is about: We “write out spirit” by practicing writing about the invisible using concrete words. In case you are going “what in the world is a concrete word?!“–this just means (using the prompt to inspire) write out what’s around us–concrete words make the senses come alive, gives place. In every story, there is always an above and beneath, a beside, something tucked away, aromas in the air, something calling in the trees or from the street, notes in our pocket, rocks in our shoes, sand between our toes. Go here to see Amber’s take on this. It was very helpful to me–I think it will be beneficial for you, too.


                                                         A few simple guidelines:

1. Be sure you link up the  URL to your                                                                       Concrete Words post and not just your                                                                      blog home page URL.
2. Put a link to this post on your blog so                                                                    that others can find their way back here.
3. Try to visit one or two others and                                                                               encourage their efforts.
4. If you don’t know how to do these steps,

please email me for help.

 

Today’s prompt is lipstick. GO!


{**Since I’m posting this mid-week, this link-up will run until next Monday afternoon 2 pm CST, giving you plenty of time to write and link up. Sometime between now and then, I will read your stories and try to highlight one of them on social media! Next week, the prompt will be balloon .}

 

 

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For When You’re Feeling Small {An Abstraction on Yield for Concrete Words}

I don’t count myself very big. I’m all of 5’3, slender hands and small, narrow feet that shoes flop all over the place on unless I get just the right, snug fit. I’ve lost more weight, making my frame smaller, and my clothes a little loose, and I like the feeling, sort of how it feels to be lost in the back of a crowd, where no one can see. 

I know I should eat, but it’s hard. A lot of things that are good for me are very hard. They require yielding and effort on my part. 




On a beautiful, cold and crisp October morning, hundreds of women were driving and flying and carpooling to South Carolina from all over two countries to the Allume writer’s conference and me? I had to stay at home. Again. 

The ache of being left behind can feel very lonely. I was so looking forward to the glory of God there, the meat I would be fed with, the renewal I would receive, the direction I needed to push my weary bones on ahead, an animal’s ears perked up and ready for action by call of the Farmer’s familiar, gravelly voice. 


But my children were sick, and there was a different call from the one I was expecting. Perhaps I had not allowed myself to hear the familiar voice in a while, and forgot the sound. I’m an animal out of practice in wearing a harness, bit and reigns. My back has been bare and I have loved the feeling of roaming wild, hair whipping, lashing me in the face. He lets me feel the sting of my carelessness. 

And I could just almost hear the faint sound… God speaking to me in a different way, because who can deny what’s so obviously staring them down? He had placed them right in front of me. 


The children. The pine floors needing washing. Laundry needing to be folded, dirty dishes, and oatmeal cookie ingredients sitting in the cabinet to nurture a child’s belly and heart. 




Home. He had placed home right in front of me. 

It sounds cliche, but my small life is what I need, it’s what He’s given, and why run after things that seem greater? Why try to be a superstar? 


Oh, believe me, I don’t write to be known…. it never was about that. And honestly, most days, I want to closed down the blog, hide away and not be known at all. Because I am small and I know it. It would be easier to disappear than to keep offering up these meager, stray crumbs. 


No, I write because I can’t help myself. But a book? Being an author? Yeah, that’d be nice… and don’t we all have dreams and aspirations, and when I see others doing great and mighty works for God, I admit, I lose my wits for a moment and wonder how I could pursue that better, how I could get a book, or go on a missions trip. I’ve wanted to for years, before I started writing, and yet even though that desire is God-given, maybe it’s not the time. It seems God would have me stay. 


Why is staying so hard? 


Why is feeling small so heartbreaking? 


Why do I have this split personality that doesn’t want to be seen, but wants someone to approve, to see me and say who I am and what I bring to the table is good? 


This is a human condition and none of us can escape it. Needing and striving for approval here on this earth becomes sin in us because it consumes, and we forget to even look up and recognize the Father’s voice, to ask Him what He thinks. 


The beauty of sacrifice can be a beautiful thing when we yield. My yielding has come slowly and painfully. I can be a bulldog when I dig in hard and am determined to get something done. I show teeth when someone tells me I’m trying too hard, that it’s not working and I should just quit. It just makes me tighten my grip.


This comes from a hard grit I have deep inside that gets me through the hard times and the things I think I can’t do. But  God knows just how to pull the things from my heart that He needs to get from me. The tender things, the ripened fruit in due season. He is the Great Tiller I believe. 


He watches over the soil of my heart, like only a Good Farmer can. And like the Gentle Father He is, He patiently waits til I’m ready, tends me, constantly sees after me, and when I have fruit to give, be it ever so small and pitiful, he looks on it lovingly because what I can’t see is that in His eyes it is great and beautiful and powerful. 


And then in the way only His miraculous hands can, He touches it and it multiplies, producing the most bountiful gorgeous sweet goodness one hundred times over. I’m so blessed to call Him Father, so blessed to be staying home with my sweet, sick children who need me, though my first inclination is to run far away and take a vacation. I’m trusting He knows what I really need beyond what I can see. I’m holding his hand, trusting and taking every little gift that comes disguised, wrapped up looking like heartache, failure or disappointment, and receiving it as blessing from His hand, one thousand and more overflowing. Ten thousand blessings besides.


I trust Him, the Great Farmer of my heart, and I tilt my head slightly, ear listening for that familiar sound. 


I think the Whisper is saying to do the really hard things. I eat. I go to the grocery store. I cook nutritious meals. I check homework, scrub kitchen counters, bathe little ones, fold clothes, hold my tongue when I’m angry, love them when they drive me crazy. I talk to my children about house rules. I put my foot firmly down on the pine floors and take ground back when they run over me. 


And with my foot firmly in place, it feels like home. We are grounded.


We are cupped. And whole, and feel a little closer to heaven. It’s completely enough. 


What this link-up is about: We “write out spirit” by practicing writing about the invisible using concrete words. In case you are going “what in the world is a concrete word?!“–this just means (using the prompt to inspire) write out what’s around us–concrete words make the senses come alive, gives place. In every story, there is always an above and beneath, a beside, something tucked away, aromas in the air, something calling in the trees or from the street, notes in our pocket, rocks in our shoes, sand between our toes. Go here to see Amber’s take on this. It was very helpful to me–I think it will be beneficial for you, too.

A few simple guidelines:       1. Be sure you link up the URL to your Concrete Words
                                             post and not just your blog home page URL.
                                         2. Put a link to this post on your blog so that others
                                             can find their way back here.
                                         3. Try to visit one or two others and encourage their efforts
                                         4. Please write along with us, using concrete words–
                                             and the prompt–Please no entries with how-to’s, advertising,
                                             or sponsored posts
                                         5. We connect on twitter with the hashtag #concretewords–
                                               please share so others can join!

Today’s prompt is Yield


{I will highlight a beautiful post from this link-up on Friday (and announce it on social media), so visit back here to see whose post is highlighted and encourage them!}

When You Miss Him & Fear of Religious Forms {Day 6}

My pen stalls and it’s stuck to the page, doesn’t want to let any words go. That pen, so stubborn, tattle-telling on my heart.

How does one write about how to have joy in the everyday when joy is so obviously elusive?

Maybe it’s been my heart that has been neglectful of what’s important–resentful of that “great secret” of Christians?

It is easy to avoid the truth and resent reality and so hard to face the stark consequences of every second, every minute, every day. My sin flavors every moment that ticks on that clock, mocking me. 

All I see on those hands are chains that bind, moments wasted, fretted away, moments squelched by my yelling, or my complacency, my apathy, my selfishness, my ingratitude. And there are more ways than one to quench the Holy Spirit.

I always wondered as a child, what does “quenching” mean? What am I doing to the Holy Spirit when I argue with my sister, disobey my parents, talk in church, don’t raise my hands and worship? Not take Him seriously enough? Am I ringing Him out, squeezing Him, hurting Him, making him sad?

As an adult, I get more curious and less assuming that what others tell me is correct.

I look up the meaning, and I find out that “quench” means to put out the light or fire of, to cool suddenly by immersion, to bring to an end, to decrease.

I ponder on this as I wipe tables, and I tell girls to make home clean and good-smelling for Daddy and then when he walks in the door, suddenly I am this sinful wretch, and I disrespect him with my tone when I don’t like his words.

In an unexpected turn, my blind eyes are opened, and I know no home that holds the heavy stench of hateful words can be made good-smelling by candles. 

No amount of Better Home will change this fact, either.

And when children’s hearts nurture their mother’s bad habits of disrespecting their father, in tone, in words, or just in a look– their bodies having been nourished with only healthy, organic foods holds no water.

And when a heart is tarnished with rebellion, no home can shine joy no matter how back-breakingly polished the old floors. 

Really–what good does it do for me to tell my children to make home cheerful and comfortable for Daddy when they see me tear down my home? 

What good is all my polishing, all my scrubbing, all my generosity for guests–if the smile is weakly and fragilely affixed, the one Anchor not holding me, because my gaze is not affixed on Him.

A smile can break so easily and a moment of laughter in this home can be fine china in the pounding wake of my destructive ingratitude. 

And I want to cup it so carefully, and the tighter I try to grasp at it, hoping to save it, it crumbles there like ashes in an unquenchable fire of negativity.

And I’ve learned that quenching the Holy Spirit of God has less to do with whether or not I raise my hands in worship, whether that man steps outside the service for a cigarette, that woman taps on her cell during preaching, or whether I can bring myself to the altar.

It has much less to do with religious forms and much, more to do with the everyday, more with my heart moment by moment.

I am convinced that the Holy Spirit is doing his work in that man’s heart who is holding the cigarette, and He is speaking to the woman’s heart who is holding the cell, though I can’t hear the holy conversation, and I bear more fruit when I am quiet in worship than when I am distracted by a form. 

One thing I’ve learned through a life-time of being in church, is that it’s possible the man who steps outside the service? It’s possible he has more humility than the man inside, praying ’til he’s the last in the building.

It’s why Jesus said it’s hard for the rich to enter heaven–they have no need of it. And when we rely on religious forms, and we think we have it all together, and we believe our prayers inside are better than the man’s outside, well, we are like the rich man who doesn’t need God. 

We think we know God, but we’re working with a hologram, a phantom, and don’t even realize it.

And I’ve come to resent religious forms, “how-to” books, 10 step devotionals–I want only real, only face-plant, I can’t do this without you God, I don’t need 10 steps–

I just need you, a holy God to come near.

And in my resenting, hard-heart ways? God has brought me full-circle.

Quenching the Holy Spirit is about every second, every minute, every hour and every day in the small things. It’s when I make this hallowed ground hell for my family. It’s when I yell at them and then smile for the guests driving up in the yard. It’s when I neglect the sacred moments of snuggling and reading in the dark for the computer. It’s when I isolate, fetal-position curled-up, and I lock myself away, and my family is begging me to come out, chubby hands reaching up, just needing so much love.

And it’s hard to let go of this fear of religious forms, and make this sacred time with God–learn how to get back to joy– but when I learn to reach out, how to let go of all my fears of being used-up and slain, and I lie down and read that book with them instead of something I want to do and it’s when I let go of my fear of religious forms and sing worship, hands in warms suds, it’s when I have gratitude for this moment and I break free in laughter about the baby climbing up and chomping down half a bag of marsh-mellows, that I let the Holy Spirit blaze ’round here.

And when I don’t let worship be tainted–worship I’ve witnessed being made profane–this freedom of me and God walking, Him whispering to me that I’m Beloved, it takes over in absolute joy.

I watch her, little feet pounding across pine floors, so much sunshine in her hair, and through this lens of gratitude, who couldn’t see joy?

Linking up with The Nester, and all the other 31-Dayers.…This ought to be one wild, brave ride…

Also linking with: Ann , Jennifer, & Duane

Do you struggle with fear of religious forms, friend? Does it hold you hostage–keep you from an intimate relationship with Him? What’s your story? How has God redeemed it? Have you found grace? Your comments so encourage me. I draw strength from your kind words and knowing you were here. My faith walk is seasoned with the right ingredients when you hang around…



This is Day 6 of 31 days of Fear. Since I started my Day 1 a little late, my “31 Days” will not have 31 posts. I have chosen to do this one on FEAR, because it seems to be something I keep wrestling with over and over, something that keeps me in chains, pins me down, won’t let me free. I hope you will come with me on this journey–to get a taste of glorious redemption as I soul-search and look for Jesus smack-dab in the middle of my fears. And Jesus sits with sinners. I won’t have to look very far. Couldn’t we all use some freedom from those fear-chains that bind? I pray God gives me the strength and the courage to complete 31 days–y’all, it’s going to be hard on this ‘ol gal to write every.single.day. Pray for me? You can find the entire 31 Day collective here 









Friends, meet my friend, Jennifer. She is so lovely and down-to-earth, a farmer’s wife in Iowa. I just love her, and you will too. If you would so kindly click here and go over to Jennifer’s site for a giveaway–her sweet daughter, Lydia, is having a jewelry party to raise money for a school playground for children in Haiti. We know these children and families have been affected by much suffering after the earthquake. This jewelry is hand-made by our sisters in Haiti–Jennifer has been there, met them, hung out with them in their homes–and this is Jennifer’s project. By buying one of these beautiful necklaces, you will be helping a Haitian woman work to feed her family, AND you will be helping raise money for children to have a place to play! She is also giving away some jewelry, so hurry on over and share on facebook, twitter, etc for your spot in the giveaway! I’m definitely buying one–I hope you do, too!

Something For Your Soul and Social Fears {Day 5}

No “writing” post today, friends, as I do a CC meeting to prepare for the next six weeks, and take my baby to speech therapy. I’m leaving you with something good for the soul below. Be sure to check this out.

I’ve been thinking about fears connected with social pressure, around my CC meeting that was held here at my home today. How we want to perform well, how we are scared to death to not have it all together in front of everyone.

I’m thinking of how we dress everything up–dishes sparkling, floors shiny as a penny, candles burning sweet smells, how we stop off at a road-side pumpkin stand for beautiful white pumpkins and lavender mums to decorate the porch. Mums and pumpkins are something I do every year because they make my soul feel warm in the face of the inevitable cold coming.

 But I’m thinking of how we spin and everything’s a blur as we dash outside to make porch presentable for guests, slam the door shut on the laundry, and yell at our kids a bit as our emotional state unravels and people we don’t know very well creak up the gravel drive….

 I will definitely be writing on this fear of mine later. I will need to give this fear a name.

 For now, something for your soul…something my friend, Emily posted on Facebook. What I’ve been listening to ’round here this week… {You may have to click the link on the screen to listen on Youtube–really, just listen. Gorgeous…..}

Linking up with The Nester, and all the other 31-Dayers.…This ought to be one wild, brave ride…

Do you struggle with fear, friend? Does it hold you hostage? What’s your story? How has God redeemed it? Have you found grace? Your comments so encourage me. I draw strength from your kind words and knowing you were here. My faith walk is seasoned with the right ingredients when you hang around…



This is Day 5 of 31 days of Fear. Since I started my Day 1 a little late, my “31 Days” will not have 31 posts. I have chosen to do this one on FEAR, because it seems to be something I keep wrestling with over and over, something that keeps me in chains, pins me down, won’t let me free. I hope you will come with me on this journey–to get a taste of glorious redemption as I soul-search and look for Jesus smack-dab in the middle of my fears. And Jesus sits with sinners. I won’t have to look very far. Couldn’t we all use some freedom from those fear-chains that bind? I pray God gives me the strength and the courage to complete 31 days–y’all, it’s going to be hard on this ‘ol gal to write every.single.day. Pray for me? You can find the entire 31 Day collective here 









Friends, meet my friend, Jennifer. She is so lovely and down-to-earth, a farmer’s wife in Iowa. I just love her, and you will too. If you would so kindly click here and go over to Jennifer’s site for a giveaway–her sweet daughter, Lydia, is having a jewelry party to raise money for a school playground for children in Haiti. We know these children and families have been affected by much suffering after the earthquake. This jewelry is hand-made by our sisters in Haiti–Jennifer has been there, met them, hung out with them in their homes–and this is Jennifer’s project. By buying one of these beautiful necklaces, you will be helping a Haitian woman work to feed her family, AND you will be helping raise money for children to have a place to play! She is also giving away some jewelry, so hurry on over and share on facebook, twitter, etc for your spot in the giveaway! I’m definitely buying one–I hope you do, too!

Orphans At The Gate–{What To Do When You Are Wandering and Failing}

I’m good at ignoring reality, bad at serving others’ needs, even my own. It’s my naturally introverted personality. I really need to engage quietly with my world–bathe in sunlight, pause at a meandering brook, revel in children’s laughter, bathtime’s bubbles and bedtime’s wandering stories.

But sometimes, when I’m overwhelmed, I go too deep inside, so deep it’s unhealthy. I forget to eat. Hours pass while thinking and writing, and we haven’t done homeschooling and I marathon-race to catch up to time, my old nemesis.

I go so deep, I don’t do what’s best for me and my family. I don’t run because I just can’t bring myself to walk. out. that. door.

 I don’t go to church because the lights are too bright and people’s handshakes make my fragile soul quake. The sheer thought of the sea of faces makes my stomach lurch. Slamming doors, blaring toy horns, and the sibling screams and fighting make insides churn.

And I grow weary of growing things–flowers always so dry in this heat, children that won’t relent, thirsty for me–and I’m thirsty myself. They always need me, pull at every corner of me. I’ve given way more of myself away than I would’ve ever dreamt possible when this all began. And yet, I know that God, the Master Gardener–he never grows weary and so I pray for some of his strength, seek His face like a blind woman, feeling the grooves and crevices with her hands, desperate for some spark of recognition, some slight remembering.

It comes out in a whispered hush when I first get out of bed in the morning and Satan whispers his first words of defeat to me for the day. I hear him–“You’re such a failure, an idiot–you should just crawl back in bed.” I hate that I do this ugly self-talk, and my soul cries and it just comes out gently hushed–in barely audible groans–“God, help. Help me through this day.”

I want to find a well that runs deep, an oasis in this desert. God, He’s still gardening, though my eyes see darkly and I can’t make out the fruits–He’s preparing something like paradise. Oh, I’ve searched so hard and so long, so desperately I’ve drank blood from the camel’s side, letting it substitute when God offers real drink in this parched land.

And my eyes widen in horror at what I’ve allowed my children to drink in lieu of God’s pure goodness and sweet righteousness.

How?! How, I ask God, can I give them drink, these children looking at me, thirsting, when I am parched myself?

How do I die to self some more, because really–I get it–I think that’s what you’re asking of me–asking me to forge on, to travel through this pilgrim land searching for the Promised Land, only a cloud to follow, the holy heaviness of you pointing the way.

My eyes are hazed over with the fog of you, You all mystery, and my limbs are weary with the weight of promise and the burden of this place called Now. I groan and ache with the reality of it.

And I sojourn with others weary–I see it in their eyes, hear it in their words, read the pain in their face as they stand there and tell me that they had lost all hope. Yet, I know You’ve promised so much more–and all you ask of me is to trust that I will some day hold the promise in my palm.

For now, it is elusive this side of Heaven and Your perfect Presence, and the only real joy here, now, is getting to know You, tasting of you, yearning for you more and more until my heart’s cry is only “More of you! More of you! Christ, come! Come, and save! Part those skies and ride in like thunder, swift, mighty, fire in your eyes, take me, Beloved!”

But here I stay and while I wait, orphaned, here–in this Now–I wander under-prepared and oh so inadequate and I just beat on Your chest, God, like a confused, angry child and beg, “Why?” My heart hardens and I struggle in my own sin-stench. I have been the desert-wanderer, the chosen child, grafted into your family vine–I’ve been that one, given so much grace and refusing to see–refusing to open my mouth and eat the manna.

My stomach lurches and groans with pains and yet I refuse to see the manna you’ve provided as good. 

I don’t do what’s good for me. I go deep inside and hide in caverns of sin and recesses of bitterness and grievance. What I would see if I came out of my cave, is you standing there, gently holding out your hand, offering life–real life.

And the whole time I’m refusing what’s good for me, You’re saying “Something better is coming, child, if you will just eat–just open your mouth.”

I swallow down the goodness of you, and I’m a stubborn child, surprised at the sweetness and delight of it. I want to be there with my children–swallow down all that goodness–open mouth wide.

I dont want to miss the moments that were designed for me to comfort, to soothe, to affirm. I don’t want to miss any opportunity because of my lack, because I’m inadequate to behold the beauty with abandon, because im shunning all the noise and racket and pounding feet that make up the song of life.

With so many things calling all around for my attention, so reckless, holding me, dangling there in their throat-choking grasp, God just keeps planting me firmly on the ground, keeps showing me that the most authentic, most deserving and most precious community is right here at home.

They are my sojourners.

I flail around in bitterness and the cold left by absence of fellowship. I grieve and what for when God has put me here with them to nurture and to talk with, to read for hours in the hammock with and play music with and read the bible with, to worship with as we bake cookies and scrub dirty counters, to explore nature with, to run through the hills and go on a life-adventure with.

The whole wide world–and the wide web–can make it seem as though what mothers do in their homes isn’t important–that the little, quiet, sacred community we’re building isn’t holy work. It all seems to scream that we need to be doing some ministry to the poor, or we need to be involved in a local church, or serving in community in some way.

The deceptiveness of culture has slowly trickled down into the church and told women that just being a mother and wife isn’t enough. But that’s a lie from the roaring hell-lion.

Oh, how the roaming lion wants to decieve us to think that the work we’re doing–the work of a mother–isn’t holy and sacred–he does not want us to think that just loving them is enough.

I know that if I’m serving in the context that God has placed me in, I will touch the lives I’m meant to touch, regardless of my church affiliation, my community and ministry involvement, or my blog numbers.

I am only human–and God knows–He designed me this way. A standard that tells me I have to constantly be reaching higher depletes me of the air and life that I could give where He has called me to give–and mostly, that is at home.

I really think this could be my oasis–the deep well of laughter and bedtime giggles and stories and living like Jesus is in the room.

This could be my strength to never stopthe eternal value of four lives that have been discipled for Christ–literally led to Christ’s feet at the cross and transformed, radically changed and devoted to His cause.

We can do that–you can do that–I can do that–that’s the burden God placed in us mothers.  When else will we get the chance to disciple so intensely? To put our mark on someone, to leave a legacy?

We have such an amazingly golden opportunity here with our children.

When else will this godly call, this priceless hour pass by again?

We must seize it with all the gusto we can muster and that takes putting off of some earthly things, some voices that call wild in the wind and vie for our attention and ask to carry us and toss us around with every new doctrine and opinion.

So I won’t crawl back into bed. Not today. I will stand with my children, Husband by my side, us all just orphans at the gate. And I will remember that. I will remember that as I mother them–they are orphans–they are His–and they are waiting for His return just as ardently, expectantly, desperately as I am.

While they wait, while I wait, I will mother these gifts well, with my dying breath, I will be a real mother to them–a mother worn for the journey–and they won’t have to journey or wander alone.

I will journey with them, and at the end, place them back into His hands.

Gratitude: {#956-976}……..

#956…a lunch in the park…women talking, children playing…

#957…the warmth of sunlight…

#958…hard eucharisteo…learning to hang in there when these social events aren’t easy for me…

#959…my sweet Bella flourishing in the classroom with her Mama after not doing so well in the other classroom…

#960…a director who gives me the week off when energy is flagging and anxiety takes over…the practical care of a sister in Christ…

#961…having the week to clear my mind, rest, renewal…

#962…patching up disagreements, how best friends can scrub you like sand-paper and make you Christ-smooth

#963…chasing butterflies, dragonflies in the backyard with my girls…

#964…watching my strong girls swim their hearts out for the team…

#965…hard eucharisteo…pounding headache and nausea, the noise of the crowd too much–giving it to God and learning to be a {somewhat} patient mama through it all, loving on my children…

#966…going out to celebrate with the girls for their first meet out of town–Husband meeting us when he got off work..

#967…watching birds, squirrels in the backyard…

#968…not going anywhere, napping in the hammock on a Sunday afternoon; Sabbath rest…

#969…my Bella asking if she is still the new girl next week, reassuring her that no, she is not the “new girl” after the first week.

#970…taking care of my sweet Bella-girl, how she lets me bathe her face with a cool cloth to bring down fever, how she sits up and tries to spoon in the ice cream, submissively puts the thermometer under her tongue, lets me hold her…

#971…Lorna making oranges for Bella, bringing them to her bed…

#972…Ivy’s concerned “Bella, are you hot?”

#973…Spider lillies splashing the whole backyard in red…

A gift cool, warm, sun-soaked…
#974…the end of my daughter’s nose…
#975…hot shower
#976…feeling the warmth of sun on my bare skin and then the first of tiniest drops of rain….

Still counting and linking up with sweet Ann and others… On In Around button

When All the Shoulds Threaten To Choke Out Life {And 9 Ways to Cultivate Healthy Habits}

She wanders out to her chair in the dappled light, warmth filtered through the leaves of a shade tree above, and she just sits, defeated. All the needs weighing, all the ‘you should do more’s’ pressing in, threatening to choke. The thoughts come furious. “You should text that person a thank you; you should finish those gifts and send them; you should write those birthday thank you’s with the girls; you should be getting up earlier, spending more time with them; you should be teaching piano to them; you should be a better wife; you should be more committed to being a better writer, artist, pianist, and you know you should get more sleep, and you should get in there and get today’s stuff done or the clock is going to leave you right behind or drag you down with it” and on and on the kaleidoscope turns, mixing all the colors ‘til she feels sick.
She tells God she is at the end of her rope, that she needs him to take over. She prays he will calm her beating-through-her-throat-heart. And she tells him that all the hard work she’s been doing to teach the girls better, more godly habits—all the scriptures copied and quoted—all the toiling and it’s really her that needs correction and discipline.
I’m the one who needs teaching, Father,” she whispers.
“I’m the one with the bad habits and the hard heart.”
And right there, there it is. What she knew was coming and didn’t want to face. She breaks and weeps. It comes out in a child-like sob. And the glory of Him arrests her and captivates for a moment, and she knows what must be done—a throwing off, a putting off of that heavy cloak of bondage she’s been wearing, and a putting on of the royal robe He’s offered her.
She knows that it’s all too fleeting, that her heart isn’t so consistently pliable, and she wonders if the prayer is all in vain, if this moment of intimacy between her and her God will be forgotten in the forward, furious momentum of life.
Her thoughts are scattered by a child yelling out the door to the backyard, calling her name, the one given that means “I need you”.
She thinks to herself how she is always so easily distracted, so many voices calling her name.
So she makes a feeble attempt.
“God don’t let me get so distracted by all the work, all I try so hard at, that I forget you.
Please give me peace, more than that—be peace through me—reign in me.”
She lifts her face up to the dappled light, and closes her eyes, tries to breathe. And God’s breath is breathed upon her, a lover’s kiss. She hears the birds’ chorus song all around, the beautiful lilting and descending of beautiful melodies, and she can imagine weathered fingers playfully, oh-so-lightly touching keys side by side, the notes in and out, in and out.
She opens her eyes and goes to mother the little one calling.
 
How to nurture good habits…. {What God is teaching me…for the sake of the children and my sanity…}:

1.       The healthy habit of prayer–Pray and ask for help—He will give it. Asking him to give creative ideas.

2.       The healthy habit of time-outs–Moms need time-outs. When everything is overwhelming, and the clock is ticking and the world spinning with all that needs to get done, sitting the kids down with a book, some sentences to write, or a movie and going outside to breathe, close eyes.

3.       The healthy habit of community–Being open to the ideas of others, not hesitating to put new things into practice, new changes that bring healing, wholeness, and healthy rhythms.

4.       The healthy habit of safe rhythms–Creating safe rhythms—supper, bath time and bedtime at approximately the same time every day. Not adding so much to the schedule that you feel your head is going to pop off—if we can’t keep up, the kids sure can’t and we are a better mom when we are at peace.

5.       The healthy habit of sleep—{this should have been first!}–Everyone in this home needs proper rest—else we can’t function as a godly, loving family! Doing whatever it takes to get everyone in bed—if that means a warm, lavender bath for me or for everyone, melantonin and sleepytime tea for me and sometimes for the oldest girls too {insomnia is a common problem in the tween years and beyond}….

6.       The healthy habit of proper nutrition—When we are all getting raw, natural foods that contain vitamins and nutrients that we need, we feel better physically and mentally, we cope with stress better, and there are less melt-downs and more productivity and godly attitudes and we don’t hit those depressing, severe lows that sugar and nutrition-void foods bring.  

7.       The healthy habit of correcting in love—I am learning that “Yelling at a flower doesn’t make it bloom”—Oh, how true that quote is. Cultivating the habit of patience with children and husband. Having the children to copy down scripture and house rules and referring to these scriptures and house rules often when they need discipline—this makes Mama calm and peaceful, offering a go-to alternative to yelling out of frustration, and it comforts me to know that I’m instilling something lasting and eternal in them that will nurture maturity in godliness far beyond this moment of mis-deeds.

8.       The healthy habit of work and rising early—Around here, we have a famous Mr. Simmons saying that goes “If you want to play hard, you have to work hard.” I can’t say enough about rising early in the am, and its positive effects on mental clarity, attitude, energy, positive outlook, productivity—I could go on and on… As a person who dealt with deep depression in the past, I can vouch that the simple habits of going to bed early and rising early make or break our mental state.

9.       The healthy habit of exercise—exercise is important around here. I run several times a week, and the girls and I do videos at home together—they enjoy it and little one tries to copy-cat and do headstands while we are doing Downward Dog. Did you know exercise creates endorphins and releases them in your brain, causing natural happiness?—God gave this to us—He created exercise to do this. His word says it is good for us to be productive. Again, when dealing with depression or a good/bad frame of mind, exercise is key.

My prayer as I share this is that it will encourage you and spur you on toward love and good deeds. –Hebrews 10:34
 
 
Linking up today at A Holy Experience with Ann for Walk With Him Wednesdays….{the WWHW graphic isn’t working}

holy experience

When No One Sees But God {And Gratitude In Pictures}

Quietly, soft worship lullabies playing in the background, I write scripture on the board for my girls to copy.

Before I can finish a sentence, one already needs me for a math question, and I move around and hover, serving their needs, quieting this one that blurts out words that cut, instructing another one how to find and keep up with her pencil, and helping yet another little one settle down with crayons so her older sisters can focus on the tasks at hand.

And no one sees this–it is just a grace that enevelops and I know His presence consumes.

There is no need for approval from man when you are right in the lap of the Father.

.


 

Fellowship and growing in the word with the body of Christ are things we’ve wanted. But it has been elusive and just isn’t something God has allowed at this point in our lives for some reason. It’s been a long season.

And if I’m being honest, I’m envious of others who have that. But I’m not alone in my aloneness. I know others have these same questions, these same lonely feelings, these same burnings and groanings. We are in a season right now, not in growing in the word, or revelation, but in our deeds, serving, our behavior, attitudes, and sins and idols of the heart.

 












This is not a work of our own hands, our own will–only grace can do this work–only His spirit and sometimes the Spirit groans and travails within our souls in words that are hard to describe, hard to verbalize or even secretly etch out onto paper.










I hesitantly, very timidly try to tap it out here, not knowing if I can even understand it myself, or if I can rightly convey these groanings.

 
 

Sometimes the Spirit within is longing for heaven, for something altogether different, something eternal, and all those fleshly things–they churn hard within, the mind and weak nature not knowing what to do with those things. And so the Spirit groans. I ache.

The temptation is to fill it with things that won’t suffice. And I forget and in my earthly skin, I fill and fill and still, I’m empty, this body of death holding nothing but decay for me.

 

Like a woman birthing and wild with pain, God is weeding so much out and doing such a pulling, tearing, hard work. Everyday we become more and more like what he wants us to be. Are we finally becoming in our home as we want to be? With no one watching, no one knowing, not even family–because in our isolation no one sees–no one except us and God.

He is the only one that sees. and that is what makes it so hard and it is also what makes it so real and rewarding. There is no body of other believers seeing our works, our good attitudes and servanthood–and cheering us on– no pastor encouraging us and saying “well done”, not even really any family visiting to take part in the fruits God may have lavished upon our home.

 
 

 
 

The girls and I talk about the scripture scribbled in bright colors across a white board in morning light–how Jesus said we shouldn’t do things to be seen by men, to not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing, to do it for our Father in Heaven, that He who is not seen may see our good works and reward us in Heaven. He warned that those who do good works for men to see have already received their reward in full and will receive none in heaven.

This convicts me and lets me know I’m on the right path and where I have erred.

Right before Husband gets home, we stop everything and clean up and wipe counters, put dishes in dishwasher and light candles. He walks in from seven grueling 16 1/2 hour days and says he forgot the prize at the store, but the girls ask if they still get to do their presentation tonight of what they’re learning for their Daddy. He says, Of course, I want you to do it for me, and I will bring your prize home from work tomorrow!

We have dinner together at the table because we all desire togetherness, and when it’s neglected, we wander blindly and falter, and can’t find any sure thing. And we gravitate back towards what holds us like glue–truth–the sanctity of this holy moment of togetherness, of giving thanks. This is a miracle–a true miracle of grace.

It is so much easier to fullfill our fleshly desires than to be selfless and loving and to sit with one another and to talk, and discipline kids when they dont want to sit or eat, and listen to stories and give and share. We read the bible at the table each night, but it isnt always pleasant. I find it difficult to sit still, to just be with them, to take in all the noise, to be gentle and patient, put simply–to love. And I ache.

I ache for all the moments I miss because I’m selfish and yet I can’t seem to discipline my body and my mind to just still while He sings over me, to just be all here, right now, wherever and however He has asked it of me. It is hard, and awkward, and brings up sin out of all of us–just maybe this is the very purpose.

We all clap and cheer and holler like a bunch of sillies hell-bent on love for each precious grace-daughter as she stands up and recites her memory work. There are smiles all around as my three daughters bow and their Daddy laughs deep baratone. Run off and brush your teeth, I tell them.

They all scurry away to bed and just for a moment I forget the ache.

I sit in the nursery rocker while Husband sleeps and the house moans, the girls sleepy heads all in beds and the quiet I have longed for all day is finally here. I rock my toddler baby girl, and as I sing about God’s greatness, the God-head three in one, Father, Spirit and Son, the Lion and the Lamb, the soft tones of Isabella’s favorite worship song waft over to her bed a few feet away, the “God Song”, she calls it and I haven’t been at all perfect this day–actually I’ve been a downright wretch of a sinner–and somehow His grace just envelops and none of it matters.

There is only us and God watching from above. It is very lonely but oh so hallowed, sacred and holy. So quiet, more reflecting his heart than anything I’ve ever known. More peace in our home abounds than ever before.

Oh yeah, there are times screams pierce and words cut deep, but I know He has us. I know His presence consumes everything.

I know I’m safe in His lap and okay just being me, the child He’s rocking so tightly.

Gratitude in pictures:

 
#917…A Daddy and a daughter growing fast
 
 
#918…Two sisters who love one another…
 
 
#919… Laughter…

 
#920…her hair ablaze with light…
 
 
#921…  a shaft of light…
 
 
#922… Lilly pretending to be a puppy at the table…
 
 
 
#923… Innocence of a child…

 
#924 Baby girl pulling Daddy on to jump too…
 
 
#925… Little one who insists her Mama jump with her!
 
 
926…her beauty…
 
 
#927…her humor…
 
 
#928…them wrapped up in sun…perfection to this Mama’s eyes…
 
 
#929… her wisps, her lashes, her cheeks…
 
 
#930…sunset on the beach, another season ending, another season full of opportunity on the way…
 

**Friends, your comments mean so much to me–they soul-drench me in grace and minister to me. And your prayers mean even more. I am not able to answer each comment–I am probably wrestling a mountain of laundry, or baby girl who apparently thinks freedom means clothes-free; teaching a Classical Conversations lesson, cleaning up potty-training baby girl’s messes, reading a good book with my kids in the hammock, {or dancing to hip-hop with them while they roll their eyes}, out running, having a glass of wine with Husband, or lying in a warm bath just trying to breathe, friend! I hope you understand? Thank you in advance for grace. If you are reading this, you are awesome and I already love you! Head here to get to know me better and to read why during this season of life, I am just quietly writing, and not visiting via social media as much….

** Thank you for so, so much grace, friends. My heart cannot express in mere words,  my gratefulness.
Still counting and joining in community with sweet Ann and others…

 

*Photos in post: Lorna and Ivy sketching Leif the Lucky…
All four girls very busy…
Lorna working on her history sketch…
Solemn Isabella …
Reading in the hammock…
Husband reading bible…
Toys on nursery floor…
Shaft of light on wooden floor…
Girls hovered over a lizard…
Heads huddled up…
Ants in tree bark on a nature walk…
Lilly napping…
Playing with a balloon…
The Lord’s Prayer…
Playing with favorite ponies…
Girls fingerpainting…
Masterpiece…
Early American History–Individuality…
Bella’s art…
Lilly’s art…
Family around the table on a day Husband was home…

Linking with L.L…

On In Around button

 
Still counting and joining in community with sweet Ann and others…







 

In Which I’m Real, Tell Why I Quietly Write {& Plead for Grace}

I settle a little one down whose cries awakened Husband, and I sob to him at 2 am that I feel like I’m being crushed. Panic racing through my mind–all the buzzing screens, clicks, words, conversations–play and re-play in blazing fast-forward like a bad trip.

When I lay my head on his chest, and he wraps arm ’round, it feels like being rocked.

I rock out the sobbing cry, snubbing and stammering out the fury of emotions held inside for weeks and months. I can’t breathe, I tell him, can’t sleep, and how I thought as I lie there that it would be better if all this was ended. It comes out in rythmic force. I constantly feel. as if the bottom. is about to. fall out. from beneath me. Hands flail in the dark and hot lava pours down flaming red, puffy cheeks. The Shadows don’t let him see, but Husband, he knows me. He asks if I always feel this way. I nod, murmur a quiet yes, the waves of terror all starting to subside as his understanding and caring begin to sweep over.

The social anxiety, insomnia, and depression here since Lilly was born, I google agorophobia and, yeah, I bashfully admit to myself, the symptoms are there. I didn’t know there was possibly a name for the feeling I get when I can’t keep up with the world.

I don’t know if this is the right name, but for me, learning that there is a name out there for this sort of thing? This helps explains the innate, powerful urge for quiet, why I run from social media in an age when “everyone” is constantly engaged, why entering the grocery store and going to church feels like I’m lying on a bed of nails. It explains the blurring mind-racing and sobbing at 2 am. My mind, my body just can’t keep up.

But maybe I’m not supposed to keep up. Maybe I’m not built that way–all this tweeting and sharing comments with the world? I’d like to softly whisper it, and send it out on the summer breeze: I don’t know that I’m God-built to be in constant contact, with distractions too many for me to keep my head from spinning.

Maybe that’s the good news here? That God already knows what we can handle? He did create the Sabbath–so He intelligently calculated rest into the equation of time, apart of our daily routine. He worked and rested–so I should work and rest. And rest–that can take on quite a different face for all of us. For some, this means never entering the full force of social circles that overpower and leave us weak.

Lying in his arms, I tell him I’m weak, that there are so many things I want to do–grow a garden with my girls, learn to knit with that kit my Mama bought me four years ago, read that stack of books, be a loving mama to these four kids, educate these four kids, just go out in the sunshine with them–and not enough physical strength to man-up to all the work everyday.

How many things do I have to pare back, pull away so there is room to breathe?

I serve on no committees, run no charities, bake no fresh bread. I’m just a mom who has a huge pile of laundry, a grocery list I’m afraid to go to the store with, and everything where it shouldn’t be–a few apple cores lying around in laundry baskets and books lying with their white-paged corners pushed just far enough, yes, smudged right there in the grape jelly on the kitchen counter.

And admist the chaos, I’m just a simple girl with a love for simple things: running, flowers, sunshine in my children’s hair.

I really want to say this out loud: I need these simple things–these God-gifts–to feel connected, to feel that I belong, to feel that I’m okay in this whole wide universe. 

When all around me and underneath me feels like it’s falling apart, I just want to know that I’m simply held, that it’s enough for me to just be and that God gets glory through that.

So maybe this really is the important thing to know: there are just seasons of simple. Seasons when all God is calling us to do is the very basic. And in some seasons the tasks of sleeping, eating, getting exercise and taking care of our families can even be a challenge. Every. single. day.

I’m not built to do it all. None of us are. Sometimes I just have to scale back on expectations, peel back committments so I can scale up these mountain walls and peel back these shadows to see–peel back this thick, dark cloud of burden, behind which lies the stage where real life is played out. Where food and Word is enjoyed by the whole family at mealtime, water satisfies children’s parched throats, and I look on lovingly, every bone in my body that cries out for heaven satiated in this small moment of God’s glory felt as I rock my child, yellow silky whisps brushing my cheek in these shadows. And it’s right here in these fleeting heartbeats that I know that I can’t be everything to everyone, but I can do this, right now, here in the quiet where no one sees.

It’s like Husband so wisely keeps telling me: “You aren’t a writer who happens to be a mother. You are a mother who just happens to be a writer.”

I will scale up that mountain, ask God to help me peel back that cloud, and shout out from it’s very top: God has made me free in His gospel of grace, and though these weary bones cry out for Heaven in this worldly tug-of-war, He has made me the way I am to cause me to turn to Him in praise! He makes me see His excellence in making me and I turn to His arms for comfort and rest. There I am free, really, really free, in His understanding Father-arms.

And in the shadows, God, He knows me.

Just a few of my Grace-Gifts from the past month, counting in thankfulness to God still:

one lone bright yellow maple leaf on the ground of the woods

hiatus leaving me refreshed and healed from so much anxiety

girls’ giggles

Husband working hard on schoolroom

messes in floors made by baby girls, all of us having work and a purpose, and buckets and mops making floors shiny

a weekend alone at home–just the two of us–and a day out of town having fun together

Husband grilling salmon and eating outside in the middle of the week

jumping up spontaneously on the trampoline to enjoy being with my girls and getting a workout at the same time!

kitchen table top gleaming beautifully

the way a wash rag feels in my hand as I make beautiful

a surprise visit from a dear friend

time to sit and write a letter to a close friend

time alone to run free in the woods

how he needs me, how I need him

**Please read–Friends, I write this post with a trembling heart, not knowing how it will be received. Because of what I expressed here, I will not be able to answer comments and visit very many blogs–although I would love for you to feel a sense of community when you are here, and I hope you do feel right at home–I just think–though we all search for so much interaction and approval from others, that sometimes, maybe in some seasons, sometimes very long seasons, just a quiet place with God is what we truly need. Just a place to reflect, pray, dream. I thought of taking the comment section off completely, but I would like to give you the opportunity to share if you like. I cherish your words, and the beautiful soul God made you. You all really do add such depth to the journey here…Also, I’d like you to know that when I see you here, my heart just leaps out of my chest to connect with you–to let you know I hear you! Oh friend, I’m so glad you understand, and thank you for so much grace! I am nodding my head, teary-eyed, as I read your hearts here.  

joining with Ann for counting gifts….. and also for Walk With Him Wednesday… Shared with Emily…

My Mother–A Strong Woman {1,000 Moms Project}

My mother– A strong woman with much grit and determination to rise with each dawn with joy. I watched how she threw herself against the elements, fought a losing battle with her weak feminine body, and won. She moved mountains and nothing stood in her way, and she taught the earth that she was its ruler. I watched and learned. When the earth fought back with a blow hard as stone, she pushed harder. She was wet with sweat. She toiled. She did things that she never whispered into my little ears. Some things are too complicated for a child to grasp. Mothers intuitively know that and cover little ears. They protect. They guard fierce with their lives.

A mother swells with anticipation, births with great pains a life, and then sees that she will nearly be killed in the work of raising it. And lay down her life, mine did. Dark depression and chronic illness hit after we were born. A woman doesn’t ask for these changes–they just come. My mother didn’t know it–at 19–that birthing us would turn her inside out, make her hate herself, make her come face-to-face with demons she didn’t know were there, make her want to quit on living, on us.

I’m grateful to her that she never quit on us. And, in the true essence of mother, she did the oh-so-hard work of changing. She beat her body and willed her flesh to honor God. The edges of her became frayed and torn and worn out from all the love given, all the giving up of new clothes so that we could wear the nicest boutique things, all the driving back and forth to school and singing to us crazy and laughing it off when we were embarrassed. Her lap and breasts endured many elbow pokes and prods, all the hard rubbing that wore her thin, and still, she continued to give.

I remember her hunched over, digging up earth, showing me how to break it up deep, water and nourish. I remember her rolling my hair up every Saturday night, the way she played worship music in the house while she cleaned, can still hear her loud, boisterous singing. Oh, how she taught me to live out loud with no regrets. I remember the peace that reigned and how even the hard, sinful things were redeemed because of her obedience and perseverance. Every. single. day.

I remember her saying she was sorry, the way she held me when I’d been in trouble and how calming my cheek against her chest was, lying side by side for a nap and love in her eyes, telling me to go to sleep when I stared at her wide-eyed–that was her pushing through with patience. And asking me to pray for her, us all crumpled there at the top of the stairs, that she wouldn’t yell at us anymore–that taught me a broken heart before God, an obedience to the Holy Spirit and the love of a mother-heart.

I remember her pink women’s devotional bible, her hand-crafted beauties she decorated the house pretty with, how she let me keep a kitten in the laundry room until he was old enough, how everything was always magically clean, how supper was always, always, always on the table before dark, and our piano-playing, our singing, our creating–she always, always said it was good, even when Daddy wouldn’t be there ’til midnight, her serving alone such a treasure. At 15, she took me to buy a new outfit because a boy was coming to see me, her only just 15 when she met my Daddy. I remember my junior year and her eyes twinkling proudly when she watched me come out of the boutique dressing room in an emerald prom dress, bought on Daddy’s small pastor’s salary. I’m sure I don’t know what it all cost her–because she never told me.

And when she prayed with us before school, for God to send a friend, for God to break depression off of me when I was in the clutches of the enemy, she really did move mountains with her faith, break generational curses, tell earth to stand back and let God move. She pioneered a godly family with my dad, she forged ahead out into the unknown, Christianity new to her. And like all mothers, she was afraid and wasn’t at the same time, because she had Love on her side.

Linking with Ann for the 1,000 Moms project–a warm *thank you* to Ann for asking us to do this–this exercise of faith and remembering and giving thanks has been beautiful! For every person who honors their mother by sharing what most important gift she gave them, either on facebook, twitter, or in a post–Ann’s family is giving a donation of a much needed gift to a mother and baby in Haiti throught the Child Survival Program. If sharing on facebook, find Ann and share on her page–if sharing on twitter–use the hashtag #1000gifts #moms so Ann will see your tweet! You can read about Ann’s project by clicking on the button below–and view more posts to moms!

1000 Moms Project

How To Have Real, Lasting Joy {31 Days to Holistic, Christ Centered Living, Day #13}





All six of us get out in the bone-chilling, drizzling rain and deliver loaves of pumpkin bread to the neighbors the day after Christmas.

One lady who lives alone, she comes to the door of her trailer, peeps out and just simply says, “Bless you,” and she really means it, her eyes lighting up with a smile.

Other homes we stop at, there are still snow-tipped Christmas trees twinkling in living rooms, fires are blazing in fireplaces, and most are in warm flannel and gathered up to hearths as they invite us into the coziness shut away from the cold steady dripping. There is much hugging of necks, much loud visiting and laughter, much softening of hearts.

I know mine is pliable as putty at the moment.

I can only pray it will last.

At one home–our old pastor’s home–we linger a little too long in the doorway as we catch up on all that has transpired in the past year and hint a little awkwardly at the fact that we still love one another though we are no longer apart of the same church body.

The warmth that passes between us is obvious and overwhelming. We promise to get together for a field trip since we are both homeschooling mothers, and we hug and it is hard to close the door and leave because it’s like closing the door on a chapter of our life and relationships that blossomed from that time.





But we say goodbye knowing that one door closes so that another can open and relationships change with each coming new year.

As we drive home, after handing out the bread to hungry handshands of souls that just long for fellowship and someone to care {don’t we all come empty-handed to the Father’s table after all?},

after all that, our hearts are full.

I say to the girls, “Now wasn’t that fun?”

And I’m not pushing too hard, not trying to convince myself and them–my heart is filled to the brim and slipping over the edges and I’m really speaking from a place of abundance.

Maybe this is the key to real, lasting joy?

“That was fun,” says Mr. Simmons, in a soft baratone, and the girls nod their heads.

I’m simply thankful for this moment of sheer joy overflowing, all this fullness of grace spilling.

Gratitude:







#409 text from a friend saying she misses her running buddy

#410 a peaceful, imperfect–yes, but peaceful Advent

#411 a peaceful Christmas celebration with all the family





#412 a 4 mile run with my mother and sister on Christmas eve

#413 girl time and how we all love one another

#414 an amazing Christmas feast and how I think that there will be a lot of families, children even, alone on the streets during Christmas who only dream of such a feast

#415 being truly thankful for what I have and the resulting joy

#416 eating cookies for supper with my family as we watch Miracle On 34th Street–a day of doing things that we never do

#417 Lilly covered up head-to-toe in her puppy blanket, walking around in it, it trailing behind her and all we can see of her are her little hands peeping out and puppy ears bobbing as she toddles around

#418 Lilly in her blanket, pointing to the rocker, a sign that she wants to be held and rocked by Mama for a few moments before bed

#419 watching Little Women with my four daughters and my oldest looking at me when I tear up

#420 Christmas church service on Christmas morning

#421 being back in our church body on Christmas day and one special lady coming to me to hug my neck

#422 a note from a friend assuring me that there is nothing I can do to ever make her go away

#423 knowing that God has all under control

#424 feeling like there is a dawning on the horizon! relief! joy! a new beginning!

Join me at Ann’s for more thoughts on gratefulness to God?

and at L.L.’s place for quiet poetry and reflections?