Grateful

Each November a grateful feeling
pulls and tugs one thought after another
from us, prompting a spirit of thanksgiving.
Large things, small moments,
family, friends, and food aplenty,
our list goes on and on.

My mind wanders in circles,
thinking, remembering, and thanking.

I wandered across the beautiful times in life,
easy to be grateful, so much to love.
Life was clear skies, sunny days,
the perfect times to be alive.

I wander through the cloudy days,
a little foggy to remember
the times of trials and challenges.
Life struggled to be full of sunshine,
but there were still
so many things to be thankful for,
even in the days of gray.

Still farther I ventured,
deeper into the darkness.
Before me loomed the hard days,
full of tears, heartache, and pain.
Was there anything in those days
to be grateful for?

There were times my faith was stretched
to the point of snapping and breaking.
But other times faith grew.
It was small moments, little drops of hope,
God planting tiny seeds, urging me
to keep believing His promises.

Days of turmoil felt endless,
restless, sleepless nights filled with anxiety.
Yet in the midst of them all,
a quiet peace was always below the surface.
His whispers were so gentle
and a hopeful hush would fill my heart.

There were prayerless days,
empty, hollow and still.
There were days of shouted words,
hurled at the open skies.
But always I came,
circling back to Him with tearful prayers,
pleading for forgiveness and answers.
His voice, a quiet whisper on the wind,
spoke deeply to my heart,
assuring me of His presence
even when I felt Him least.

My strength was depleted,
I lie prone and helpless, unable.
God in His great mercy
lifted me up and walked me
through day after day after day.
Never did He leave my side,
always my support and my strong arm.
When I was unable, He was able.

Those dark and heavy days
taught me to love unconditionally,
to hold family tight and enjoy.
They showed the beauty of Jesus
in the body of believers.
I reflected, remembering good,
finding laughter in memories,
and reveling in the gifts
I had been given.
In the quiet stillness, I learned
God is trustworthy, faithful,
and a dependable source of strength.

The dark valleys were not easy.
I was stretched and tried,
and slowly but surely my faith grew.
My heart knew greater dimensions,
fears were conquered
and challenges overcome with His help.

Am I grateful for the dark days?
I am thankful for the things I learned,
for new truths, a closer walk,
deeper communion,
and eyes that see the world
in a new light.
Even in the darkest times,
there are tiny specks of light,
just enough to be thankful for
and just enough grace for today.

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Octoberish

Are you a procrastinator? Or would it sound better to say you are one who prefers to defer or delay action? That doesn’t sound too bad, really. It is good to think things through before jumping into something, correct?

I am unsure if I fit into the above description or not. Sometimes perhaps, but not always, for sure. If it is something that needs to be done, if it has a deadline of sorts, I will get it done on time. If it is something that I roll around in my mind, that would be good to do, in due time I will accomplish this said thing. If it is a project that I dislike, like painting, I’ll put it off until Jesus comes back to rescue me.

So am I a procrastinator? I don’t know. Why am I asking? Because I’ve been thinking about it and wondering.

11-19 (15)

October showed off beautifully here and I do love a good October. If I have to endure the next five dreary months, I need a good and beautiful fall to get me through winter.

11-19 (14)

October used to be my favorite time of the year, but less so the last few. I choose to find joy even amid the heaviness that it brings.

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11-19 (2)

Our church went camping, well we call it church camp, but it is technically not camping but very technically a good time anyway.  They had a big Candyland game for the kids and I got to help! It was fun.

11-19 (4)

They played a lot of volleyball. Emphasis on “they” because it sure wasn’t me.

11-19 (5)

This is an interesting thing I challenge you to do with your church sometime. Everyone was supposed to bring a photo of themselves from their toddler years. No names attached, they were hung here. It was a lot of fun to look through them and play the guessing game. Mine was no fun, everyone knew who I was because they said it looked just like all three of my girls, none of whom look like each other.

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11-19 (7)

Do you know your neighbors? We happened to be related to or go to church with a large percentage of ours but there are some we see only once a year at the neighborhood bean supper.  Mr. Gary invites everyone to bring a can of beans to dump in his big black pot, any kind will do, and he’ll grill hotdogs. You gather up whatever else you want to share and we have a picnic of beans, hot dogs and good fellowship.
Try it with the people around you.
Or move to our neighborhood.
Either one will work for a good time.

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11-19 (12)

We went to IN on the coldest weekend in October and roasted hot dogs with the gang.
Grandpa had the grand idea of everyone roasting their own lunch. It sounded like a good idea. There were a few burnt, a few cold, a few dirty, and a few good ones, but everyone had fun.

11-19 (13)

Are you a marshmallow fan? Tell me if you are a mom and I’ll tell you if you are a fan of roasted messes. But they love them, so we let them.

11-19 (11)

I was excited to read through this cookbook while I was there. I sent it to Mom when it came out and wanted to see it for myself after hearing her good reviews on it.
My advice, go to Amazon and buy one. It is beautiful and everything in it is worth making.

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11-19 (1)

If you stop in here, chances are you will get just a bit of drywall dust on you from somewhere in the house. We are under construction.

We added a room to the back of the house which will be the new living room and it will spill into the old dining room and the old living room will be the new dining room. Did ya follow all that?
It’s not a just a Saturday night project, it’s an every night project. One of these days, it will all be done… but will it? I always think if you are a homeowner there is always one more thing waiting to be done.

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11-19 (6)

We took a cake to the church carry in last week, not this one but another kind, and not one person asked if I made it.  hmmm  Wonder why they always think Madison bakes all the things.  – – Because she does.

11-19 (17)

Madison and her friend Emily hosted a girls evening on our front porch. It was beautiful. It made me want to be one of the girls, minus sitting on the floor, of course.
I taught the youth girl’s Sunday school class the last year and enjoyed spending time with them very much. They’ve taught me a lot.

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11-19 (9)

“The work of the mature person is to carry grief in one hand and gratitude in the other and to be stretched large by them. How much sorrow can I hold? That’s how much gratitude I can give. If I carry only grief, I’ll bend toward cynicism and despair. If I have only gratitude, I’ll become saccharine and won’t develop much compassion for other people’s suffering. Grief keeps the heart fluid and soft, which helps make compassion possible.”
Francis Weller

Four Years

Autumn’s beauty gives way to Winter’s chill,
Winter eventually thaws to Spring.
Spring slowly warms to Summer,
and Summer cools to Autumn’s crisp.
The changing of the seasons never cease,
each takes a turn, another year gone.

Another year of missing you each day.
Another 365 days of wondering;
what do the glories of heaven look like,
the streets of gold, the crystal river of life?
Do the walls of jasper glisten,
and the gates of pearl shine?
What does it feel like to be Home,
to gather with Jesus and the redeemed?
Another year of longing to join you in song,
singing “Holy, Holy, Holy” around the throne.

Family (107)

Four years ago when you left us,
we gathered to mourn, to grieve,
and remember the life you lived.
Over and over those days
Isaiah 41:10 played across the screen.
“Fear not, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed,
for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you,
I will uphold you
with my righteous right hand.”

And true to His word,
He has done this for us.
On the darkest of nights,
He was with us in our fears.
In the deepest valleys of grief,
He sustained and strengthened us.
His strong right arm upheld us
when we were weak and worn.
We learned to lean on Him,
to trust his unfailing grace every day.

Four years of walking this road,
and not a day has gone by
that Jesus has not walked with us.
Our faith and trust have grown stronger,
we know His Word to be true,
He is the strength He promised to be.

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But still, we long for more,
every day we hope, waiting patiently.
We long for the days of grief to end
and our tears be wiped away.
We long for the day we will hear Him say,
“Well done, my child, welcome home!”

Tris, one day we’ll see you face to face,
one day we’ll praise His name together.
Until then, we miss you,
we watch and wait with longing,
walking by faith, until then.

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See you in the morning.

Drink in the Wonder

The smallest things in life can squeeze your heart the most.

Ordinary things take on a new light when seen through eyes of gratitude.

Observe the little things and watch them turn into something amazing.

Savor the moments. Sit and drink it in. Treasure today.

Sept (2)
See life through the eyes of a child. Drink in the wonder.
Did you know a worm can become a candy cane?
Enjoy the laughter, the chattering long stories, and even the arguing.
They are only this age once, it won’t last forever.

Sept (11)
Take the time to sit with family, listen to them, love them, make the most of the days with them. Overlook their faults and shortcomings, you have some too, by the way. Just love them because they are your people.

Sept (14)

Bless someone.
A man behind me in line paid for my pizza one night. It left me sputtering thank yous and “I’ll pass it on.” He smiled. I smiled. Another man smiled. The clerk was just happy to take his money since I had come up lacking.
Now it’s my turn to be a blessing to someone else and see them smile.

Sept (16)

Take a photo of the morning chaos that is breakfast, packing lunches, pulling on clothes, scrubbing faces and teeth, pushing and willing them out the door in peace.
One day it will be but a memory.

Sept (10)

Breathe in the smell of the flower passed from one woman’s garden to the next, carefully treasured flowers that speak of life and love.
Stop and enjoy the leaves turning a beautiful hue, the green becoming golden, and the whisper of the voice of the wind. It is life.

Sept (15)

Raise your hands to Jesus. Whisper thank you for all your treasures, the people in your life, the moments you’ve been gifted today.

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Today as we watch and wait with bated breath, a little boy is slipping from his Mama’s arms into the arms of Jesus. Whisper a prayer for their hurting hearts and ask Jesus to hold them close.

Becoming

She rises while it is yet night and does good all her days. Running about buying and selling, still, she girds up her loins and feeds the poor. There she is, knitting, sewing, and making her clothes while speaking words of wisdom and kindness to her children. She is superwoman, so where does that leave me?

Who is this Proverbs 31 woman and is there any hope for me? I am not her. I won’t ever be her. She does more in a day than I will ever accomplish in my life. Yet, I am endeavoring, I am a process, I am grace and growing, I am becoming.

Becoming the Proverbs 31 woman is not about striving the work list to exhaustion and arriving. It is about life, living, heart attitudes and becoming like Him. It is not a 12-step checklist to do, but about principles and building on them. It is not about me, myself and I and all I do, but about living today for His glory. Becoming is being willing to move in His direction, one step at a time.

Becoming is seeking Jesus first. Life is full of important things, we always make time for what we value. Do you value Jesus so much that He comes first in your life? Are you devoted to seeking him like you are in keeping up with social media?

It is being relentlessly in prayer and intercession. The moments of falling before Jesus and seeking His presence and direction in your life. It is approaching the throne on behalf of others, pleading with the Father for them. Becoming is communion and time spent listening for that still small voice.

It is about being trustworthy and dependable. It is walking with people in your life, lending a listening ear or a hand. Becoming is encouraging and speaking grace to the surrounding hearts. It is being a blessing to someone because you know the warm circles that chased around your heart.

Becoming is seasoning your words with grace, kindness, and love. It is spreading joy and happiness like peanut butter. Spend time enriching other’s lives with your words, honoring them. It is about lifting and building up your friends; stop driving wedges and tearing down bridges.

It is being willing. Becoming is being deliberate about necessary changes in your life. It is being enthusiastic about jobs that are less than appealing. Finding the willingness to go the second mile and giving until you have no more to give. Becoming is digging deep inside for joy and willing your heart to sing, even when life feels less than joyful.

Becoming is meekness and humility. When the need arises, apologizing and asking for forgiveness. It is speaking words hard to say, but growing because of them. Times of falling and failure may happen, but getting back up and trying again is becoming.

Becoming is trusting with faith that God will be able to use ordinary you. It is not about knowing it all or being the best. When we are God-fearing women who are willing to stand in the gap and be used by Him, we are becoming.

It is about Him, not about me. Becoming is embracing God’s grace, bearing His image, and fulfilling His calling on my life. It is living with reckless abandonment and giving myself wholly to God. It is building upon those principles, applying them, and glorifying God with my life.

May 2017 (7)

The Birthday

Once upon a month or more ago, I had a birthday.  Since it was a monumental birthday of sorts, my family decided a celebration was in order. We rented a house in Hocking Hills and had a grand weekend together.

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We hiked a little on Friday and some more on Saturday. Now, don’t imagine some kind of backpack mountain type hiking, no, that is not what I would choose for a birthday. This was fun and easy hiking, just my speed, one where the grandmas and kids could keep up well. In the name of honesty, we were probably pulling the reigns back on the kids most of the time.

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The scenery was so beautiful. There were so many things for boys to climb on, peer over and try out. There were also too many moments for the moms to gasp a little and reach to pull them farther from the edge.

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“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” —Jane Howard

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There was so much to do around the house that the kids stayed busy all the time we were there, which is always a good thing. It was also fun to sit and hash all the things with loud talking and big opinions. And eating too, of course, yes, we ate very well.

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My handcrafted birthday gift from my brother.
It is still sitting here looking at me today. I haven’t gotten up the nerve to use it yet. I don’t want to ruin it but I also wouldn’t mind keeping all of my fingertips attached.

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Yes, it was hot, why do you ask? Every square inch of shade was gobbled up.

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And in the end, I felt like Max!
After each place we went, another group would go back to the house. I decided I might be oldish, but I’m not quitting yet. I hiked them all except the last one. Only the men and two of the boys went to the last place and let me tell you, it felt pretty good to go home and collapse for a siesta.

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Some clowns showed up for a jolly good time to celebrate the birthday girls.

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This was our first weekend to go somewhere and do something like this without Tris. We talked about him often, discussed what he would have been doing, and thought about him all the time. It was bittersweet. I’m glad we are still a family, we still love doing things together, but we’ll always and forever be missing one.

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And at the last minute, when everything was packed up to go home, we thought about the ice cream still in the freezer. Grandpa says you should never wast ice cream, so they all got a spoon and dug in.

Life ebbs and flows, people around you come and go, but family is forever.

“Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs. The ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.” – Anonymous

Pepper Poppers

What are some of your favorite summer foods?

One of ours is Pepper Poppers.
Take your pick of sweet peppers or jalapenos, then stuff, wrap, and grill them.

Poppers (5)

So good.

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The Cast of Characters:
Poppers (1)
Peppers, either sweet peppers or jalapenos, cream cheese, and bacon.
Optional: mozzarella cheese sticks

Clean your peppers by cutting the ends off and coring them.
Poppers (2)
Usually, I just stuff them with cream cheese; sometimes I put a little plug of mozzarella in first and then fill the rest with cream cheese, your choice on that. My children liked the mozzarella in them the last time, I preferred it without.

Poppers (3)
Wrap a half slice of bacon around the end and secure it with a toothpick.

Since the pepper and bacon grilling time are not equal, I usually cut the bacon slices in half and fry or bake it just a little prior to wrapping it.

Poppers (4)
Grill for approximately 15-20, maybe 25 minutes. It all depends on the temperature of your grill. You can also bake them in the oven if you prefer.

Poppers (5)

We all love them.
Try a few and find out if you do too!

 

Clean your peppers.
Stuff them with cream cheese.
Wrap bacon around the ends
and secure with a toothpick.
Grill until pepper is softened.
Enjoy!