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.

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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.

_ _ _ _

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

His Hands

His hands told a story,
a story of hard work,
greasy tractors and love.

They were rough and calloused hands.
Although cracked and toughened,
worn by work and life,
they were gentle and kind hands,
always willing to work.

His hands started working young.
They learned the art of nuts and bolts,
a wrench or pliers applied to a bicycle.
He wielded a tool with precision and
took things apart, one piece at a time,
but soon had them back together again.

His hands were ever moving,
working to bring life to an old machine.
He knew just what tools to use,
which adjustments to make,
and soon a dead engine,
was purring with life.

Hands (1)

He ran his hands over the hood,
along the fender and up over the door.
They pulled him in onto the seat
and gripped the steering wheel
while turning the key.
His hand pushed the Jeep into gear
and with a wave and a smile,
he was off.

His hands told a story while he talked.
How wide is must have been,
how high it stood and its strength.
They fiddled with the candle,
twirled a toothpick in his mouth,
or poked a fork into a plastic plate.
His hands pushed him back from the table,
as he said, “Alrighty then!”

His hands told a story of
love and committed to his wife.
They reached for her hand,
and led her with courage and strength.
His hands were gentle and kind,
ever-loving with his children.
They reached for his hands
and held on with full trust in their Dad.

His hands turned the pages
of his Bible as he read.
They put into action what he learned,
and told the world of Jesus.
He loved well with his hands,
always the first to help others,
lift someone’s load,
and reach to care for a brother.

His hands told a story,
a story of hard work,
greasy tractors and love.

Hands (2)

 

– – –

What story are your hands telling?

Summer Days

Summer days are for wading in the creek, playing all day, the smell of freshly mown grass, diving in the pool, and sipping coffee on the porch in the cool of the morning. Most of these have happened, but swimming has not due to extraordinary amounts of rain and cool days. We’ll keep waiting.

Summer (1)

Summer days are for boys with cut-offs and boots, homemade fishing poles, catching fish and tossing them back in while waiting for the big one to bite.
Summer days are also bored boys pestering sisters until the cows come home or Mom loses her cool, whichever comes first. And since we don’t live on a farm…

Summer days are for celebrating special days.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “How did this happen and who are these children? How can they be mine when I am still approximately 28 years old?”
I kid you not, Mother of 4 small kidlets hanging on your skirt, this will happen someday! Hang in there. And I will not repeat that dreadful old phrase quoted to me many times, “This too shall pass,” even though it will soon enough.

Summer (6)

Summer days are for playing outside, digging in the dirt, catching frogs and having fun. I am unsure if this is normal or not, but she seems to think it is.
Yesterday the front door open and I heard her say, “This is going to be efic!” I am not scared of frogs, but this turned out to be as epic as she predicted. She had a little tiny frog hidden in her fist and when she opened her hand, he jumped straight up and into my lap. I scared us both!

 

Summer days are for pretty weddings and marrying off our favorite Carrie to her groom, Matt. It was a beautiful day!
Summer (4)

We were happy to add one more to our crowd.

Summer (7)

Summer days are for birthday and celebrations of life and turning one year older. It’s a privilege that not all are granted and should not be taken lightly.

Summer (8)

Summer days are for grills full of food, stuffing our faces with all good things growing outside. They all like tomatoes but their mother does not. That taste was acquired from their father. One of their favorite summer meals is toast and tomatoes. That’s it. Just make toast, butter it and put a heavily salted tomato on top. If that is called cooking a meal, I can handle it.

Summer (9)

Summer days are for boys building fires and girls gathering all the necessaries for a marshmallow roast. Then there is the ever-sharpening of sticks on which to roast and arguing about who has what stick and what knife and on and on. If you have children, I need not describe this scene farther. I prefer not to roast marshmallows, they prefer to roast as many as possible so we have a win-win situation.

Summer (10)

Summer days are for cousins and fun, playing to near exhaustion, consuming copious amounts of food, sleeping all over the basement and getting up entirely too early the next morning to start it all over again.  What would life be without cousins?
I grew up with a passel of cousins we saw multiple times a week. We were either farming together, playing in the hay mow, going to grandma’s or roasting hot dogs at the cabin. My kids see their cousins a little less, but they still have just as much fun as I did.

Summer (11)

And summer days are for seeing and hearing God’s whisper in the wind,
“I am still here, I love you, my child, as I always will!”

Running the Race

You know when you have a friend drop by, invited or not, a good rule of thumb is to never apologize for how the house looks. Don’t mention the toys all over the floor, if you have kids, she knows why they are there. Don’t mention the dirty windows, the spider webs or the overflowing countertop or she might actually notice them.

The same applies to a blog, I should just scribble out a post and not mention how long it’s been or give 1,000 reasons for my 2-month absence. Actually, I can’t really give a reason other then life happens. I think the stage of life I am in is just crazy-never-ending-busy-full of all the things. Everything from school functions, to running kids hither and yon, to family weddings to cooking, baking and cleaning.

Life feels like a rat race. I can’t stop the turning of the wheel,
but I can either be a happy rat or a crabby one about the race.

4-19 (4)
What happens when one holds a fizzing birthday bath bomb a little too long?

My life revolves around school right now. Tieing up all the end of the year things, thinking about field trips, honor rolls, and all that good stuff. The kids are getting antsy to be done also, ready to roll into summer.

And then there are thoughts about the summer. Those thoughts frighten me sometimes and then I think, “Nope, not gonna be like other years. We are going to all get up early, schedule things, work without complaining, whip the place into shape, do the laundry, mow the lawn and then sit on the beach and sip…”
Are you laughing?
Well, you should be because I’m sure it won’t fall into place quite like that since it never happened other years when I planned the very same thing.

What are your summer plans?

4-19 (8)
When the ice cream shack opens for the summer… we are there!

Do you have memories of doing things like this? When I was a kid we had a little ice cream spot in town we would visit occasionally. We would stand in the parking lot with ice cream cones dripping on the pavement, licking as fast as we could. Sometimes Wednesday nights we would take the long way home from church and stop for some ice cream.

My kids seem to think this should be an every afternoon occasion. I have vetoed them more often than not but secretly would like to eat ice cream every afternoon too.

 

Mr. Inventor has been working hard. He has a slingshot and wanted to make a holster for it. Cardboard and a lot of duck tape later he had built what he needed.
The other night I heard him talking about this fishing pole. He kept collecting things to finish the project and with a little bit of help from his Dad, he finished it and is now ready for a trip to the creek!
I’m thinking of buying him stock in the Duck Tape company for his birthday.

4-19 (2)

Once upon a time, we went on a trip for Spring break and a grand time was had by all. We spent a few days in TN with Eric’s family, eating, swimming, playing games, relaxing, driving go-carts, and enjoying life. Time spent together is not something to be taken for granted.

4-19 (6)

Rocky, the infamous dog, continues to cause his share of trouble around the place. Contrary to what one may think when viewing this photo, I do not like actually like him so very well. However, I did agree to take him for a “walk” one day by means of me riding and him running as fast as he could.

4-19 (7)

I am currently teaching the youth girls Sunday school class. I told them recently that when I was voted in, I wasn’t altogether thrilled to be doing this. I had not been teaching very many Sundays when I remembered a conversation I had had with God a month or so before. It included a few things about wanting to invest more time and effort in His Word. I am not doubting at all that He took that request seriously and handed me a group of girls to teach each Sunday morning.

The girls have been choosing the subjects we study and challenging me greatly in the process. I always hold my breath just a bit when one starts to describe a subject to discuss and more often than not I am wincing before they are done. That cliché saying about getting your toes stepped on, well yeah, it is real and it really hurts.

4-19 (5)

One subject we talked about that really hit home with me was kindness. Now I don’t like to think of myself as unkind, but does anyone? While none of us are truly unkind, how much effort do we put forth to practice genuine and true kindness to others? Do we go the second and third mile? Do we bend over backward in an effort to be kind to someone, especially the special ones who are like sandpaper to us?

The Greek root for kindness, as used in the New Testament, means uprightness or benevolence and describes the ability to act for the welfare of those taxing our patience.

Kindness draws others toward us, changes people’s hearts, heals broken relationships and makes people feel loved and respected.

You are never too important to be kind to people.
There is no excuse for not being kind.

Kindness is a skill. We can all learn to be kind. Kindness needs practice. Just as a tree doesn’t strengthen its roots the night of the storm, you can’t develop kindness overnight; you’ll need to practice it in the smallest experiences. With practice you’ll become instinctively kind; kindness will become effortless and will no longer require active thought.

 Kindness is a choice.
No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.