Category Archives: joy

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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A Warm Shout of Thanks And Love To Ann! {A Testimony of 1,000 Gifts}

In cold February when I first heard of Ann, it was through the trailer to her book–they showed the video at my little church. I only heard her voice and her poetry, and that was all I needed to hear. I was floored by her words, them digging up my soul from the grave and screaming, “Awaken!” They moved me, the think, muddy waters of me, and they soaked the parched ground of my spirit. And something else began to trickle–love.

My heart began to bleed and I began to weep tears and it began to stream into rivers of life.

At the time I was in school full-time online, while being a mommy to four and a wife to one amazing man. I had suffered with post-partum depression, anxiety and migraines after the birth of my fourth child. Being in school compounded this, and stress took over my body.

I began having fibromyalgia symptoms (a stress disorder) and the illness took an ugly turn, getting worse and worse. The insomnia worsened and I began to have paranoia. The anxiety episodes came to the point I could no longer attend church.

I was not able to take care of my children the way I desperately wanted to mother them, just desperately wanting to cradle them, to read to them, bake with them, to read devotions to them. The illness has at times had me isolated and closed off to my family–even to my sweet baby, for which I felt awfully guilty. I had to quit school because the stress and the illness came to the point that I was having severe pain and could not continue.

This was around the time I began reading Ann’s blog, A Holy ExperienceI was on a path of my own and God showed me I was headed the wrong direction. He showed me that my desires to raise my girls were placed there by Him, and that I did not have to give that up in order to pursue school and a career so that my family would not starve. He showed me that I was pursuing things out of fear and that I had to trust Him for His will for me and my family–even though I thought that I was pursuing these things for the love of my family and to help my husband.

My heart had hardened to my family and all the dreams of motherhood I really longed for–I had to bury all of these hopes and dreams in pursuit of a career–it is not so easy to switch paths–it takes a softening and pounding of the heart, a tenderizing of tough, calloused meat. So now, here I am. I began reading One Thousand Gifts and bathed myself in and drank in the words of deep communion and gratefulness to God.

This book changed my heart and life forever!

I continued reading the words on her blog. The first post I ever read was about a horn she hung on a wall to remind herself to be happy and to share joy with others.

Her joy intrigued me–I wanted to know more–the Farmer she called him, outside in the yard and her in the house, him laughing and her smiling, him honking at her from the truck. Yes, I wanted this joy.

I also read the one about when the Farmer came to put gas in her van on the snow-packed country road, and it impacted me, the way she didn’t expect him to do these things, but she humbly recognized them as gifts. I needed this.

And she wrote this: “…he’s drawn it all close, and smiled when she’s created and nodded for her to go and said no to any performing and yes to just being.” I knew this was the way my Husband loved me too, and I knew we were headed down this Christ-love marriage road and I saw hope on the horizon.

I read the post called How To Fall In Love All Over Again In 4 Minutes A Day–a profound post–the intimacy between them–the way he tells her to believe him when he tells her she is beautiful–like Christ and the church–I had to know more.

These posts touched me deeply. There have been times that Husband and I have read together, tears streaming down faces. It is because of Ann’s writing–because of her family and the way they live–that we now read the bible at supper each night. This is a remarkable, sweet, sweet change for our family–oh the mercies and grace of God!

As these writings began to bring not only lasting change to my heart, but to my family’s as well, I also began counting my own gifts. I began naming them. You can see my first list here.

This naming, there was a mystery to it–a naming of gifts given that otherwise would go completely unnoticed, unaccounted for, and without having given thanks for.

It was in this continual giving of thanks everyday–not only in counting the beautiful gifts, but in counting the hard eucharisteos–eucharisteo meaning hard thanks, the kind of thanks to God that comes in hard trials and circumstances that we didn’t want to come our way–that my heart really began to change.

The book opened up new doors for me to go through that I had never thought of before, never known they existed. But the habit of writing down my thanks to God for gifts made the walking through doors possible. And the more I write it down, the easier it is to walk through the doors of freedom into joy.

This has been healing to me, has brought me through and I can finally see the other side–all this light to dance in like crazy!

Starting today, I will be tweeting my three gifts a day as a part of the Joy Dare. I have been taking part in the Joy Dare, but am behind in doing it everyday, so I would like to tweet it everyday to keep me accountable to keeping up with it. I believe this will be another turning point for me. To follow my Joy-Dare tweets, just click on the little link in the side-bar!

Would you like to take part in the JOY DARE? Click HERE to read about it with gorgeous free printable from Ann!

Gratitude:
3 gifts that were surprises…unexpected grace!…
#563 red Valentine heart full of chocolates from my Sweetheart
#564 a phone call from a very close friend and the prayer that changed everything–healing!
#565 Granny and Granddaddy bringing pizza, drinks and ice cream for everyone–such givers

3 times you heard laughter today…
#566 my older girls being silly, and the way she puts her hand to her mouth and giggles, eyes lighting up like jewels
#567 when she shared her life with me as we ran and we laughed freely
#568 Husband and I laughing together at silly things–commercials, our own antics and movie-quoting

3 gifts found in working…
#569 the beauty of the yard when it’s cleaned up and raked
#570 that home really can be a safe haven of peace and this is the reward of my efforts
#571 a breeze blowing in through kitchen window I had a hard time raising

3 hard eucharisteos…
#572 waiting so long for our vehicle, cooped up all winter, not able to attend any homeschooling outings, knowing God is working the finances out for the right timing
#573 the hard work of relationships–the beauty that unfolds in my toiling and giving and in others for me
#574 losing friendships that once had their moment of shining brilliance, lost as to why this has to be, and so thankful for the ones who are loyal to me through all of my flaws

3 gifts found behind a door today…
#575 Granny and Granddaddy driving out for a visit because they miss their great-grandbabies and watching them for just a couple hours while Daddy and Mama get out for a little breather–the bond that can’t keep family away
#576 when I’m typing, little one peeking around the door every so slowly, her inquisitive two-year old eyes
#577 a door opening for my Father in the form of a job with the state, teaching, after 30+ years of self-employment–the first time in his life he will have insurance and retirement–comfort for his aging body

3 ways I feel the love of God…
#578 Husband’s tireless taking care of me and the girls everyday. His endless giving.
#579 A friend shining beautiful for Jesus calling to tell me that God said I am to write a book–I whisper this thanks hesitantly
#580 A friend only just met online offering schooling books for us to use for free! Extravagant grace! Thanks through tears!

a gift in losing something, in finding something, in making something…
#581 losing my pride, taking a love-risk and reaching out when I’ve been hurt
#582 finding the cover to my camera lens–Praise God!–this is the way I love to record my gifts!
#583 making Valentine’s treats with the girls–oh delightful fun!

**All of us passing illness around here…using tissue like it was air and sipping hot tea. I will do my best to answer your kind comments and hopefully I will be able to write more later this week. If not, I will see you, friends, next week! Getting sick, though I never get sick, maybe God’s way of slowing me down?

If you enjoyed this post at all, and think someone else might as well, would you consider sharing in one of the ways below? {two ways to do this–at the top of the comment section and here:}

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Join me at Ann’s for a Joy Dare, and counting our gifts and graces from God?

Giggles

In the harshness of dark and responsibilities weighing heavy–they all have had baths, supper finally eaten at 8:00, teeth brushed, and now time for prayers and a story–I try to make sense of time and how it seems to rush away from me, leaving me here, empty, with all my stress and worry.

I am trying to get everything done so that when they at last fall asleep, Mr. Simmons and I can watch a movie, snuggled up.

But I hear squealing coming from their room, and I realize that he is not cooperating with the plan. I peek into their room to see what the commotion is, and see pillows being flung, laughter escaping little mouths, and eyes wild with excitement. He is in on it too.

I could get annoyed at the plan being sabotaged, as I have in the past and tell everyone to calm down so that my nerves can rest. But I don’t. I have learned a new motto: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em–at least when it comes to the lighter issues of life, and when it applies, and I whole-heartily believe it applies to pillow fights.

So I join in on the pillow sacking, and the girls run from me, in squealish fright, eyes wide with merriment. Mr. Simmons grabs a pillow and sacks me and I stand bold and pretend to hit him with all my might. (Of course, we all hit Mr. Simmons harder than we do each other because he can handle it–isn’t that the way with Daddies and heroes?)

While Mr. Simmons is preoccupied with being tackled by eight tiny hands–even little baby Lilly, who we heard grunting in her crib, wanting in on the fight–I run and retrieve my camera to capture the moment. Lilly toddles over, unsteadily holding baby-sized pillow over her head, mimicking her sisters in their ambush.

As Mr. Simmons becomes too tired to continue, and the room begins to quiet, all three oldest girls are in a trio huddle, and I try to snap a frame of them, only for them to fall backwards in giggles on the bed.



I capture their sweet giggles, as Mr. Simmons stands in the doorway watching. Ivy has a contagious, innocent laugh, her body slumping back with the limp happiness, reminding me of the sweet gigglish bunny of the cartoon Robin Hood. She rings pure joy, the echos reaching my very soul, and I know…this is what life is about. This is contentment, this is savoring the moment, this is wisdom…slowing down just to hear her laugh, just to taste the sweet joy of them, their faces all flushed tingling happiness.


My gratitude:

#236 tree tops bowing in storm, the way i do before God and His mercy

#237 pine trees swaying–one last dance before winter’s bareness

#238 wings flapping past window pane

#239 from my perch at sink, a close-up view of tiny bird on her wire perch–her distinct lines, soft belly hair, and ruffled, white-streaked tufts of mohawk adorned head

#240 how the green lush is greener against the grey sky

#241 grey skies that lend to me staying in my context and settling into family games inside while it pours outside

#242 feeling useful

#243 that i can again do tasks for my family that require a lot of me

#244 making food to fill their bellies while Husband practices guitar with eldest daughter and little ones play with dolls

#245 that they are learning music together

#246 pinkness of salmon

#247 a new food and fitness plan for me, bedtime routine for all 6 of us

#248 that he read scripture before family card game on our Labor Day together

#249 candles’ soft glow on table

#250 children’s laughter and my learning to just let go

#251 tiny brown paper heart handed to me in the middle of my chaos of emotions and her angelic voice, “i love you”

#252 Husband calling into work and spending the whole day being lazy with me, just for us

#253 napping in the hammock with Husband, reading aloud together “The Mystery of Marriage”

#254 being on time

#255 peacefulness

#256 realizing that i long for home when i’m out and the familiar smell when i walk through the door

#254 date night twice in a week’s time

#255 Husband taking me to Joann’s and buying craft supplies to keep my mind off things

#256 us reading scripture at the supper table and him choosing the Psalms because he knows that it soothes me

#257 the two of us, one, praying together at bedtime

#258 Lorna’s prayer: “God, thank you for everything we have, and without all the things You have given us, we would be very poor. Please help the children in Africa, and Brazil and Australia that don’t have anything to eat and please give them more than just one room in their home and take care of them. Amen.”

Counting 1,000 grace filled moments to be thank for…with Ann…you can too: