December 30, 2011

this mother's heart

The first glance at the clock this morning sent me on a journey back in time.  Fifteen years.
I remember that morning so clearly... waking and feeling my water break.  The relief and giddy laughter, along with packing my bag, that followed.  The trek to the hospital and knowing that this was it.  The pregnancy that almost broke me was ending and my new adventure was just around the bend.

I believe it was all His plan... the tough months of preparation, the early labor... and all of the hope and joy and life that He bundled in this small boy.  While Laura made me a mother, Camden made me more.  For both of them.  I was not unafraid... but when my heart quaked, God stilled it. His sweet smile, full nights of rest, the warmth of his small self... and the laughter that bubbled out of him at the most unlikely moments.

And now he is fifteen.  Fifteen
He is as much a joy to me today as he was then.  Maybe... even more so... as I see this beautiful boy becoming the most generous man.  My heart of thankfulness is certainly overflowing.   And when this mother's heart quakes, I recall how he has taught me to love completely, fight for what is right and laugh with my whole self.  And I am still. 

To my beautiful (um, handsome.  I mean cool.  Or awesome) son... happy birthday.  I love you.

December 23, 2011

a christmas wish

The world is weary... from the rush of Christmas or the weight of life... and quite possibly both.  The lamp posts are decked with greens, the airwaves are singing the tunes and homes are strung with twinkling lights... and still, I feel like I must sift through it all to find Christmas. 

And under the mess... there it is, shining bright with hope.
In the stacks of shoeboxes, in the overflowing toy drive bins.

In the lay-away angel stories, the leaving of secret gifts and in the hearts of friends.
In the scrawl of a small, sweet girl...

And always, always... in the manger.

My Christmas wish for you... is to feel the presence of that tiny baby, and all it means to your life.  For you to feel His love deep in your soul... and pass it on.  Because no matter what is under the tree, we already have all we need in Him.
Merry Christmas... with love.

December 21, 2011

a new decade

The lights are still strung across the backyard, and while traces of the fiesta remain here and there, the cake is but a memory.  Hello forty, here I am.  The neighbor was kind enough to say that he would have thought thirty... and though I smiled graciously, I am owning forty.  What else can you do, really, when your daughter is just weeks away from eighteen?   I would not trade a smile or laugh line for all the world... and even the worries that have etched their marks, have contributed to who I am now.  Lessons and laughter and living... I will bring them along into this next decade of me.  Yes, I will own forty... because as it has been said, it is not the years in your life that count, but the life in your years.

December 20, 2011

i love to hear the story

The choir sang... and the little ones told the story, with a little help from the big ones.
They were dressed in their Christmas finery... feathery angel wings, halos spun with tinsel, gowns & robes tied with cord belts... that, at times, doubled as lassos.  Joseph strayed, shepherds ran laps, and the angels were restless.  And somehow, it was perfect.

It is the story that is made sweeter in its imperfection... whether in Bethlehem, an old school cafeteria or a new shiny church.  The story that is told again and again, and still makes me cry because... it is my story, too.  One that breathes hope and love... and promises gifts beyond our imagination.  It is the story that brings our hearts back to the humble stable... where Love was born.  And if you can't lie down next to the manger, where can you rest?

December 15, 2011

how do they know?

I do not have a green thumb... but somehow, in spite of me, the poinsettia we planted in the yard last winter has flourished.  Grown to at least twice what it was, and the leaves cannot be told from the blooms, all alive in the prettiest shades of green.  My thumbs are envious. 

Making my way out the door, those leaves stopped me in my tracks.  The greens have deepened, the veins have darkened and the leaves are becoming... red.  Just in time for Christmas.   How do they know?

This is Florida, where the December days stretch to balmy 80s, so I argue against the change in season... and I marvel at what has to be the truth.  Like deer donning dark winter coats, or beaver preparing their homes for a long winter... or an abundant harvest of acorns that appear after a year of few... those leaves just know

Green leaves turning red... not yellow or blue, neighbors on the color wheel.  Red is a leap for green, but what is impossible with God? Certainly not a Christmas miracle.  He breathes His command into the air and it is so.  His breath sweeps through the branches, sails down a river... speaks a message to the soil.  He shows us His love in big ways, through small things.  Like a scarlet poinsettia... at Christmas.

How do they know?  My mind turns to singing... Does he love me? I wanna know!  How can I tell if he loves me so? ... If you wanna know if he loves you so, its in his kiss!  And my mind's eye sees Him... sending His love into the world, blowing a kiss on the wind, after His Son.  Breathe for life.  Jesus air. 
There is no doubt...  He loves us so

December 13, 2011

sand in my toes, rain in my hair

There was no question about giving up a few hours on Sunday, I would have given her the whole Sunday... the whole week if she had asked.  The questions were in the sky.  What time was sunset?  Would the chance of showers turn into a rainy mess?  Would the dark clouds loom too close?  As the afternoon ticked on, I wondered if we would see the sun at all.  Making our way to the beach, I prayed to the God of impossible things...  please God... hold back the rain.  I knew Ann was praying the same.

It began as we stepped off the boardwalk and into the sand.  Umbrellas up, towels out... and we stood beneath the seagrapes, trying to stay dry.  Praying. Checking the radar.  Laughing. Praying some more, with faith unwavering.  And at last... God parted the clouds.

I wanted to take the pictures of a lifetime, not to say that I did, but just for her and her family.  Because they just might be the pictures of her lifetime.  The camera clicked for twenty minutes and their little family snuggled in laughing and smiling while I did my best to document the love that shone around them. Deep down my heart knew that no matter what, the photos would be a gift.  To her now.  For them... down the road.

The rain returned... and hoping that we had plenty of good shots, we trekked back to the car.  Evidence of waves wrapped 'round my knees, and my hair was soaked with rain.  To add insult to injury, I hit the wrong button at the shower, and expecting the sand to be washed from my toes, a blast of icy water hit my head.  And then... they offered dinner.  I wanted to say yes! But could I put this vanity aside?  Through a smile my insides hemmed. and hawed.  But how could I say no, knowing that every moment is precious? So I did the best I could with the only comb I could find {those little picks on the ends of a toy tiara} and I vowed to put a hairbrush in the car for next time.  And though I walked into that restaraunt almost dripping wet, I was smiling, thankful to have grabbed the moment. 


: :


Some gifts sit lonely waiting to be recognized.  Some have a time limit. 
That she would ask me to take these pictures, that she would let me.  The beautiful is her... my dear, sweet friend who is fighting for life.  The messy is me... praying for the impossible, and fighting back the tears on any given day.  I teach myself to seek.  And I try not to let myself get in the way.  Because all we really have is right now.  The mess will likely never end... so I might as well splash in it. 

Unwrapping life, a most precious gift, on a Tuesday...

December 07, 2011

night lights

I am a New England girl, heart and soul. 
I long for the crisp chill of winter, and I dream of white Christmases.  But life and God's plan has me planted in the warmth of Florida...

And nights like this... tell me I am right where I belong.

December 06, 2011

the right now

He stretched out on the couch, long and lean, while I sat hovering.
Does the heat help?  Is is too hot?  Do you need another blanket?
It seems years have passed since the last time he needed me in the middle of the night.  Many years.  But ears have a way of crying out in the wee small hours.  He winces through the pain, and my whole mama-self wants to haul him up in my arms and hold him close while I whisper away the pain.  But that inch he has grown past me makes it all but impossible.  I settle for the hovering... the reheating of the bean-bag, the spreading of another blanket, the watching, the waiting. 

Each age, each phase they tumble through, each moment in time... is scattered with gifts, even if they are occsionally scattered in the rubble.  I wonder what I would give for the chance to turn back the page and hold my little boy, full in my arms, just once more.  The vision slinks in with a warm love glow... and for a minute, all seems worth it.  And then clarity comes about and I realize how good it is right now. No trade would suffice... right now needs to be the victor.  Right now, perched on the edge of big dreams, with its independence and sense of humor and never-ending list of things that make a mama smile. 

I hear his even breathing, place a kiss on his forehead... and I whisper a thank you to the Creator of what was, what is and what will be. 

: :
A week flies by and it is Tuesday again... a Tuesday with gifts to unwrap.  The gifts are not always beautiful at first glance, but when I seek with grace-colored-glasses, I find the beauty that was longing to be found.  Last week Emily urged to "Begin with the gifts at your feet and see where they take you."  Thank you, Emily.  They have taken me on a journey and back.

December 02, 2011

there is peace

He has always been the fun dad.  You know the one.  You look around at the party, and after seeking high, you find him low... in the midst of a crowd of little ones.  If there is a pool, he is the one tossing them higher than they should fly.  And if there is a blazing camp fire, there he sits, enthralling them with tales of the Headless Orange-Picker (you many not have heard of him, he is an original.)  So it wasn't a big surprise to me when he headed out, with the guys, to a kids tree house in a friend's backyard. 

I almost shouted a warning, then didn't.
As he walked up the slide, second thoughts popped into his head, then out again.
Our friend was supposed to ride the zip-line next, but let Eric cut in front of him.

Even as he was lying there in the pine needles, I knew this was part of the plan.  There was pain, yes... but his toes were moving.  He gasped for breath, but spoke through the lack of it.  Even as he was lying there, waiting for the ambulance, I could feel His Grace... and I thanked Him for it.  There was a peace that passed all understanding

I probably could've driven myself behind the ambulance... but friends don't let friends drive in a state of the unknown.  Nor do they let you wait, alone, in the emergency room on a Saturday night.
to be continued...

December 01, 2011

counting on christmas

Chilly morning, hot coffee... and the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree.  December

My advent wreath has been on the table all week, candles standing {kinda} tall... but today we begin the count... to Christmas.  Twenty-four days. So many years ago, those twenty-four days took  forever to pass, but now I know these days will hardly be enough. They will pass far too quickly.  I only hope that I can make the most of the hours... that I can bring my heart right along side Love.

We will mark the days by opening little doors... finding tiny treasures.  At just-about-fifteen and almost-eighteen I wonder if they still really love it, but I cannot bear the thought of not. So it is Legos for him and "industrial chic" charms for her.  It seemed like a good idea, and then too extragavant... but how many more seasons do I really have to do this? {this morning their faces list up with JOY!}

And as day is done... I hope to gather around the table in the shimmer of candle-light.  Each night one step closer to Bethlehem.  Oh this is the story that my heart loves.  The dusty road, the sweet-smelling hay, and the bright shining star... each a piece that brings us closer to Love. 
The story that is the beginning of my saving...

Yes, I'm counting on Christmas.

November 30, 2011

and there was thanks

We had to borrow two chairs, six spoons, four forks and two dinner knives in order to gather twelve around the table.  Where does all of the silverware go?!  I knew it would be snug... but I also knew it would be lovely.  Family,  and friends who might as well be family, side by side... giving thanks and enjoying each other.  Turkey and all the fixings... including the parade that always makes me cry. 

We chat on into the evening... and end with candle light and conversation on the lanai... while the kids tackle games on the Wii.  

My list of thankful runs 'round in my head... and I know it is not just for this day. 
It is for every day. 

November 29, 2011

tuesday unwrapped... again

We sit across the room from each other while the t.v. blares, but neither of us is giving our full attention to the Cake Boss.  She plays a game on her ipod and I knit, and though we are not having a conversation or working on something together, we are.  Together

When she retreats to her room for jammies, I don't really expect her to return, but for a goodnight kiss.  I can feel my face smiling as she snuggles back down into the deep of the couch and returns to her game.  I think I might lose her when I retreat for my own jammies, but there she remains.  She even giggles when I call us the Jammie Girls

We sit together, but not.  Most nights she would be curled up for sleep by now... or on the verge of it, wrapped up in the pages of a far-off adventure.  But one reason or another, the rambling on of the Cake Boss or the comfort of the little couch, has kept her in the living parts of the house tonight.  When our half-attentions connect and we both laugh at the same line, I smile. 

Somewhere in the world of growing up, in the space between needing me and not, we find a little bit of friendship.  And more and more, I see who she is, and who she will be, instead of the wide-eyed girl she was just yesterday.  I realize that there is no ordinary day, no ordinary hour.  Every breath we navigate is new and unusual... and perhaps laced with the fear of the unknown.  So in this sitting together, but not... I find the gift.  I want to grasp it and hold it tight to my heart... for I know that in the blink of an eye, it will be time to let her fly. 

: :

Thank you, Emily, for this return to Tuesdays Unwrapped
When my heart was feeling stale, you pushed me to find a little bit of beauty... and I'm so glad not to have missed it.

November 22, 2011

this year

In past years I have sought it, and even though my heart has been thankful, I have come up empty handed.  So much so, that last year I came to the conclusion that the feeling of Thanksgiving, for me, is in the day.  In the parade and in the gathering.  But this year... oh, this year I am overflowing with the spirit of Thanksgiving, and have been all week. 
Perhaps it comes in the preparation.  The knowing that my table will be full and our home overflowing.   Perhaps it  comes in the creating.  The planning and the special touches that say I love you without the words. Or maybe... maybe it comes in the stillness.  The knowing that the whole week is ours, and there is hardly a place we have to be. 

Whatever the reason, I'm already full
Full of the anticipation. 
Full of love. 
Full... far ahead of Thursday and turkey.
Thankfulness abounds. 

November 13, 2011

oh, what a night

I'll take astro-turf over a red carpet any day...

Add in a balloon archway, spinning silks, and the rustle of silver poms... and I just might be over the moon.  The gold harvest moon that hung in the sky, proclaining the perfect night for fall, football, and marching band
I suppose that you can't really know how big a deal "Senior Night" is until it is your turn... your turn to walk your heart across the field.  We swung our clasped hands as we giggled across the field, and she sparkled.  A sparkle that had nothing to do with the tiara atop her head.  Oh, I cannot believe that senior year is here... and yet I am so ready to celebrate her and all that is coming her way. 

Shine on sweet girl... we are so amazed at the young woman you are, heart and soul.

November 10, 2011

and now i know




During one of the day's crazy conversations someone asked Is it a full moon?  I just laughed at her question... because I had no idea.  It seems weeks since I have peered up at the sky and drunk it into my soul.  But now I know.  Full moon, bright and shining... a night light like no other. 

I raced for the camera, wanting to capture the beauty of treasure hung high in the sky.  Standing there in the yard, in the quiet, in the beauty... I felt a calm.  He feeds me through the sky. Sunsets and white cotton stretched across a sea of bright crisp blue... or sunlight streaming through.  Dark morning sky still scattered with stars, or a glowing moon on the rise.  

Masterpiece of His heart, food for my soul.  

November 09, 2011

finding my way

She sits lonely, this blog...
while her author slowly, oh so slowly, finds her way back to her words. 

There is so much between the words and me... a thousand distractions turning up and untying the strings of words I somehow have brought together, all at once leaving them in a pile on the floor.  They are not lonely though... so many other things are keeping them company down there, scattered throughout the house.  If only I had the energy to do it all.  And in that I find the blessing of thankfulness... the gift of a husband who does so much to contribute to the workings of our home, even if can't right now. 

He is healing... slowly.  Is there any other way? 
Rest, rest, rest... over-do.  And the then cycle begins again.  We are thankful for that too... that any healing comes his way.  Very thankful that three broken vertebrae will heal.  So we continue this balancing act with a smile... managing the pain, forcing the resting, picking up the slack, making due with the situation of right now.   My heart and soul are weary, but even in this I see His plan and embrace it.  Prayers are answered and I am taken by surprise at how much He provides.  He has a great plan, one greater that we can even fathom.  I praise Him in this storm... and follow Him as he leads me on my way.

October 27, 2011

if it wasn't official before...

Today she turns in her cap and gown order. 
Way back when... 2012 seemed a lifetime away, and somehow, now it is almost looking me in the eye.

She came home giddy with excitement, and when I finally got home, I was as excited as she... to browse through the senior stuff with her.  Reading the tag lines on the cover had me marvelling at the clever author and ooooh-ing at the picture memories spinning through my mind.  And then... in the next moment,  I was sobbing. 

Oh baby girl, I am teetering on the line of disbelief... the one drawn between excitement and touch of sorrow.  But oh, this life... is beautiful from any angle... and you will shine.

I can count on it.

October 25, 2011

being thankful

It's been more than a week of days since I have felt like there has been a possibilty of stringing a few thoughts together, but now... the words are stirring again.  Hearts have been praying, and it seems that the thick veil of exhaustion has lifted some.  I am thankful.  I suppose knowing things are going to be okay and the actual road of getting there are two completely different things... and sorting out the differences make me weary.  But there is less pain and more living... and the promise of an update tomorrow.  Any news is better than no news.   

Fall has come, and with it, fresh air.  For deep breathing. For cheering. For laughing.  Yes, there has been some of each.  Again, I am thankful.  The breeze circles 'round us and we think outloud that perhaps this is the best season of the year.  But the next, and the next after that will come, each with its own glory and gifts... and it too will be the best season of the year.  And it makes me smile... to know that the best is still just around the bend.

October 10, 2011

while we wait

The days stretch on in uncertainty... even the weather can't quite decided which end is up, pouring down buckets of rain while the sunlight is still filtering through the trees.  But being home is good, and the sound of the rain on the roof lulls me into rest.  Although, my body isn't sure it could actually have it any other way.  Exhaustion has arrived in full force.  Let the healing begin.
It is not just his back that needs healing... the past week has tried to bend our souls with fear and pain and that uncertainty.  And the light at the end of the tunnel, the light declares life has returned to the normal that you knew, seems faint and flickering, and we know it is at least two months away.  With rest, togetherness, a new arrangement of furniture and borrowed choices of seating, we begin to paddle our way towards the Healer... and   when our eyes are weary, and we wonder if the weight of sleep will lift, His Grace comes around us like a life-jacket.
Grace enters in, and keeping our eyes on the tunnel-light no longer seems necessary.  It pours over us in love of family and friends, and in casseroles and simmering, savory aromas.  Prayers and well wishes surround us and lift up not only Eric and his injury, but all of us as we band together.  And even the scariest financial details... they are bathed in His Grace, and we see a glimpse of His Plan.
Healing may be a pinhole of light flickering in the distance... but the comfort and promise of His Plan lights the way.  We do not know the details that are yet to be, but we rest... assured that in Him, healing will come, and
that uncertainty has nothing on Grace.

Imparting Grace

October 05, 2011

holding on... on a wednesday

Remember that joy is not dependent on your circumstances.  True joy is a by-product of living in My Presence.  Therefore you can experience it in palaces, in prisons... anywhere.    -Jesus Calling, Sarah Young
Anywhere.  Even in this hospital. Even facing a day of pain, which will surely come when Eric is finally upright, braced and walking.  Things are moving along here... and while we have been told that Friday is a possible day for heading home, we don't even write it in the notebook.  Not even in pencil.  There are many things that need to happen before home happens... many doctors who need to sign off and say okay.  There are still questions, still situations that are unsure.  But there is good care, edible food, loving visitors... and Jesus.  Always Jesus, anywhere.

October 03, 2011

choosing blessings

The sunshine slips in under the drapes and I catch a glimpse of the outside world.  The beautiful, sunshining, first-day-of-cool outside world.  But where else where would I be but here... by his side as he lays still and just a little broken.  I watch him sleep... and know that he will be okay, but my prayers still will the healing, still ask for the pain to subside.   Pastor came and prayed... for a healing beyond what seems possible to us.  I know He hears every prayer... so we wait.

I see two paths... and choose the one lined with blessings.
-toes & fingers that wiggle and that the medication does take the edge off the pain
-friends that just show up... and though they do not come empty handed, just their presence is enough
-prayers, messages and notes... knowing that we are not alone.
-nurses that care... and one in particular who found a bigger room
-the view from the cafeteria... lily pads scattered across the pond
-kids who take this in stride... and the chance to kiss them before they went off to school
-the sense of humor that is not lost
-the green paper crane that keeps watch...
-family who says don't worry
-he answers the phone and says I'm doing great.  He's not... but I like that he thinks he is.
-kindness in a door held open and a smile... I'm sure he didn't know my next stop was the hospital
-a time to worship... hymns through the speakers as I drive through the black of early morning... and the light that begins to welcome the new day
-the tears that come in that time of worship... a release of my heart. 
-it is well with my soul... and when I hear that song, I recall Beth Moore's words  It may not be well with my circumstances, but it is well with my soul.  And it is. 

Your prayers are blessings to our family.  Tracie always asks me for specific prayers... so I will add these.
-That there are only 3 vertebraes fractured.
-That the healing be quicker than the doctors could imagine.
-That Eric's spirits stay high.

Today I am linking to Richella's Imparting Grace... because these blessings are His grace and we are resting in them.

September 30, 2011

handwriting

I love handwriting.  I love finding a hand-addressed envelope in my mailox (rare!) and guessing who sent it.  I can pick out Amy's writing in a heartbeat.  My Mom's familiar loops are recognized instantly.  Oh, and my Gramma's beautiful script... I always wanted to write like her. 
This summer, I recall a hand addressed envelope that made me laugh... addressed to me!  I studied the print and made a guess that it might be Kim... but a glance at the postmark told me otherwise.  My second round of scrutiny brought no answer, and I slid my finger under the corner of the flap in defeat.  And then there was laughter.  The handwriter?  Me.  I had forgotten that I had packed the card and envelope in Cam's backpack for camp... making him promise to send me one letter! 
My scrapbooks are full of my handwritten stories and captions... because I know how much I treasure the swirls and loops and individulaity created by the ones I love.  And how much more will I treasure those handwritten treasures when my loved ones are gone?  My handwriting is a part of me... and though I can't seem to recognize it in the mail, I think that others just might.   And so... while a typed paragraph may be neat and tidy, I truly believe the one written by your own hand is more beautiful.  Even if you don't like your writing. 
It seems like it was forever ago that I began the dinging room table project... and perhaps it is not-quite completed- but it is the most complete it might ever get!  I do love it...

And I love it more that in a moment of brilliance I flipped up some of the postcards and preserved some of those treasured loops and swirls.

September 28, 2011

home-made safari

Eric spends his life in the car... patrolling up streets, and down. In his "travels" he discovered a really lovely spot. He introduced me to it a few months ago when he spotted some sand hill cranes out there... he knows they make me squeal with happy...

I might have had to climb out of the car and perch on the "window sill" for a picture or two... and as he drove down the dirt road, that safari feeling overcame me. The scenery in no way reflects Africa... but the wind on my face as we bumped down the road? Made me long for it...

Friday we returned... for a walk along the newly opened boardwalk. The air was alive with the buzzing of dragonflies, and in the distance we could hear the low croak of an alligator or two.  We walked, we talked, and we laughed as we admired what was just over the railing.


When the bugs and the heat dictated that it was time to head home, we drove slowly, still taking in the view.  The storm clouds were building behind the trees and the wide open vista spoke to my heart.  What did it say?  It was talking some kind of crazy... and practically begged me to bring Laura out for a visit...

So I did.  She was a great sport... and so was Eric. 
Especially Eric.  Even though we got back to the house before the time of the appointed pre-dance get-together, he had to entertain her dance date, along with his mother & sister, and three of Laura's friend... who all showed up ten minutes early! Oh well.. it was worth the ten minutes that Laura & I had together... just us.