January 31, 2011

the weekend of us

There are days when I feel like we are as far apart as the east and the west... words thought but not spoken, my insides tied all up in knot.  All for the love of the girl I have such dreams for... dreams of laughter and life as big as she can make it... wanting so much for her to reach out and grab it.  And then a handful of days crop up that are just for us... she and me and sunshine and life.  Those days, and every minute they contain, are lovely strands of spun gold... and I grasp them with all that I am, all that we are, knowing in the moment that they are as precious as the air I breathe. 

This was the weekend of us.
Conversation, laughter, fabric, cheesecake,
fuzzy blankets and bare feet, mod podge and soup.
The best of me, and the best of her... strands spun together instead of apart.

January 26, 2011

takes my breath away

With a gift like this... how can I resist the peace that He offers again and again?  Examining my heart and soul, I find myself no longer wanting to resist, just eager to drink in His peace... courage a little closer today than yesterday or the day before.    Thank you, God... for chipping away at me, for never giving up...

i trust

I lay quietly grasping his hand, eyes wide open and tears sliding down my face.   With a sigh, he says it will be okay, but even his voice sounds unsteady and I'm sure he only said it because he knew I needed to hear it.  Too close to home. Again.  My heart cries out to lock the doors and draw the drapes and hide from the world.  My mind knows this is no way to live, no way to teach them. 

Lord, I trust you... Lord, I trust you... Lord, I trust you.

I am jolted awake, surprised that sleep had come at all, and before long I grab for those words again.  I know they are the ones that will get me through the day... the ones that will give me the strength to send her off to school.  School... where who-knows-what is stashed in lockers and backpacks and pockets.  It takes an incident too big to bring the hidden to light, and let me know how false my sense of security really is. 

Lord, I trust you... Lord, I trust you... Lord, I trust you.

I kiss her goodbye... and hide the tears only long enough for her to walk out the door.  And for the first time, I think of those parents who expected to say hello again at dinner time... never once thinking that dinner time as they knew it would never come again.

Lord, I trust you... Lord, I trust you... Lord, I trust you.

I don't doubt that the peace that passes all understanding is coming.  In fact, I don't doubt that it is hovering right here within my reach.  Oh, if only I were brave enough to grasp hold.  But I'm not... not just yet anyway. 

Lord, I trust you... Lord, I trust you... Lord, I trust you.
Life is just too precious, and why-oh-why don't they understand? So I cry a last few tears... for the lives that will never be the same, for parents left behind, for the safety I took for granted, and for the way the sins of the world seem to chip away at faith in mankind.

January 25, 2011

{virtual coffee}

Storm's a 'comin! The air is heavy and the wind is whipping... but you might still want to stop by for coffee today, since my air might just be a touch warmer than yours. Seventy-seven. I know I should be appreciating it, but I could use a crisp oh-I'm-alive kind of breeze.  It's not been an easy day... tragedy in our neck of the woods.  I'd love the distraction of friends. 

If you were going to stop by for coffee... you would get a sneak peek at my project-in-progress!  I have been bit by the motivation bug and I've been crafting up a storm these past two weekends!  Refashioning tees and spreading Mod Podge... loving that I'm making all sorts of stuff from what I already have!
Hundreds of postcards all puzzle pieced together... on my dining room table.  I am always really thankful for hand-me-down furniture... and once in a while I get brave and decide that whatever I do certainly won't ruin it.  I'm excited to finish it!

If you were really coming for coffee today I hope we'd laugh right through every conversation and maybe gasp about how January is almost over and how life seems to be moving in fast-forward.    And I would let you know that our friend George is on his way home from Afghanistan right now.  Hallelujah!  That was our good news of the day... and I was glad to have some happy tears to mix in with the others...

linking up to Amy at Lucky 13 for {virtual coffee}... come on over and join us!

January 24, 2011

the biggest gifts

Christmas was, as always,  beautiful and full of Love... and I find myself still dancing in the memories (even a full month later.)  There were sparkling lights on the tree, colorfully wrapped gifts beneath it... and smiles, from both the giver and receiver, that reached to the end of the earth.  Or perhaps... across the earth.  If you asked Laura and Camden what they found under the tree, they would might launch into a list that leaned toward practical... headphones, alarm clock, tee-shirts, pajamas... and then, you might just notice a twinkle in their eye because they know when they tell you about their biggest gift, you might not believe them...

As Eric & I arrived at my Mom's on Christmas Eve, the kids all tumbled to the door with smiles and excitement left over from the Christmas Eve Eve sleepover.  Laura immediately thrust her ipod towards me and sung look-look-look at Ishanga.  I had to unravel myself from my Mom's arms, and set down our bag of gifts under the tree... because I wanted to be fully present for her.  She showed me again... and I cooed and maybe got just-a-little-teary.  Ishanga?  Did you name her?  No, I just chose her... because of Shanga

Ishanga is an elephant, Laura's foster elephant.  She lives in Kenya at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust... "a haven for elephant orphans."  She was saved from the jaws of a lion, nursed back to health, and one day... she will return to the wild.

The whole time Laura was sharing Ishanga with me, Cam was at my side practically bouncing out of his skin waiting to share his elephant with me.  He had already shouted out his name... Kibo!  And that name brought its own tears, too.  I didn't even wonder why he chose an elephant named Kibo, I knew, and I loved.  And I thought it amazing, perhaps a wave of His most beautiful hand, that there would be two elephants at the Trust that would have such connections to our own trip to Africa.  Kibo was the name of the safari company that we rode with for two of the most wonderful weeks of our life. 

But it was finally his turn... and we went to the computer and he brought up Kibo's picture.  And how could I not tumble into love?

Kibo was saved after he fell into a well... his ears so sunburned.   And at only two or three weeks old Kibo was flown to Nairobi in a rescue plane and now lives at the Trust... safe and strong, and someday, free.

Laura and Camden love these biggest gifts, and these big-little elephants have somehow become part of our life across a million miles.  Their hearts grew that day... the hearts that had already been stretched beyond their imaginations to fit Africa were pulled just a bit more... to embrace baby elephants.  And I love that my Mom continues to share her dream, her heart for Africa.  What a gift to give!  One so big, and so full of life... one they will hold dear to their own heart.

'Saving wildlife and wilderness is the responsibility of all thinking people.
Greed and personal gain must not be permitted to decimate,
despoil and destroy the earth's irreplaceable treasure
for its existence is essential to the human spirit and the well-being of the earth as a whole.
All life has just one home - the earth - and we as the dominant species must take care of it.'
-Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick

Photos property of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust... a great big THANK YOU to the Trust for sending me these photos to use.  The story would not have been the same without them...

Do you want to find out a little more about the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust?
You can follow them on Facebook and you can foster your own elephant or rhino
And do you remember when we had our dug deep into a bucket of popcorn?  We were watching the preview for Born to Be Wild... I know just what I'll be doing on April 8th, 2011! 

... linking up to Amanda at Serenity Now for weekend bloggy reading!

January 20, 2011

i have loved

I said it outloud for the first time yesterday.  My kids are fourteen and seventeen.  All of the preparation, all of the "they are going to be..." did not prepare me for the real thing, did not prepare my heart for the mix of loss and joy.  I'm not quite sure where the time has gone, I only know that I cannot get it back, except in the memories.  It might go without saying that the tears are rolling, even as I think about it again.

It happens in a blink, it happens in a flash
It happens in the time it took to look back
I try to hold on tight, but there's no stopping time
What is it I've done with my life?
When it's all said and done,
No one remembers how far we have run.
The only thing that matters is how we have loved.
I don't want to miss even just a second more of this.
-lyrics from Blink by Revive.

Oh, I have loved. 
I have loved with the most gentle whispers of butterfly kisses, and the fierceness only a mama knows. 
I have loved... and love still... forever and ever.

January 19, 2011

her day

When your birthday dawns gloomy gray, you have but two choices...
wish for sunshine, or splash color all over the day and make your own.

We painted, we rummaged through book stores, indulged on Starbucks and red velvet & white checkered cake. Just before his appointed descent, the sun pushed through the clouds and shone golden rays of light all around us. And if that gift wasn't enough... the other half of the sky tried to show the sun up with a rainbow that surely must have encircled the earth. On her day, even through the gray, there was no lack of light... her smile was bright enough to conquer all.

January 17, 2011

seventeen wishes

Oh, she'll be seventeen in January... it just rolls off my tongue, and if I don't linger too long on the subject, or think too hard about the years that have passed, I am okay. Seventeen? When I allow the lingering, my eyes grow damp and I can feel the threatening tears...

But time does not stand still, so with a pocketful grace, I let go and let her be seventeen... but mostly because there is no other choice.  She is my girl, my angel, the first one to call me Mama... and I can't believe how quickly we have gone from there to here, and how beautiful the journey has been.

Happy Birthday, Laura... I love you.

January 14, 2011

no matter where

Our little ever-growing zoo has recently opened a giraffe exhibit, and my heart batttled between wanting to go, and not... wondering how it would be to see them in a zoo, after being oh-so-close to them on the Serengeti.  But a last day of vacation, bright with sunshine and the slightest cool breeze called for an outdoor activity... so off to the zoo we trekked. 

My heart skipped, my eyes filled... and love prevailed. 

Six young giraffes wandered and stretched, bowed to lap up a cool drink... and frolicked in the sunlight.  And when one was reaching, reaching, reaching up with his tongue to grasp a snack, I couldn't help laugh right out loud.  And when two would bend and bow their long necks around each other, my smile was wide, my eyes fixed on the gracefulness.  I love them here and there and everywhere. 

I believe in zoos... the education and the joy that happens there, the animals that are loved by keepers and guests.  And oh,  the chance to see the world, from the corner of your own!

January 13, 2011

more than you know

After only a flurry of warm days, we are back to a Florida chill... and the corners of my mouth are swept up in a smile.  I can't help myself.  And I can't help but let a giggle slip out as the trusty weatherman speaks of the windchill, in Florida.  Today we may be the only state in the nation without snow on the ground, but as I wrap a scarf around my neck on my way out the door, I can pretend I have a little hope that one or two flakes might just fall...

Just weeks ago I was talking to my Mom about all of the acorns the live oak has sprinkled over my driveway... more than any other year since we've lived here.  It'll be a cold winter then, she spoke as she ducked into the car.  And it made me think of Pa and Laura Ingalls coming across that thick-walled muskrat house in The Long Winter, and Pa's seasoned response that it would be a long, cold winter.  Oh yes, the animals know.  Because God provides... by letting the woodland animals know to build their homes a little sturdier, by hanging a few more acorns on an oak.  And my smile grows, just a little wider. 

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?
         -Matthew 6:26 AND Luke 12:24 
           (yes, it is in the Bible twice... that is how much He loves us.)

linking up to Amanda @ Serenity Now for Weekend Bloggy Reading!

January 11, 2011

{virtual coffee}

It has been so long since I participate in virtual coffee... and I have missed the camaraderie. Today, as I step back in, I imagine what it would really be like... to walk into the coffee shop after being away so long. The trembling heart, unsure and once again shy... the courage it takes to dig deep for that breath and take the first step...

And then, the worrying that was for naught... welcomed back in, with smiles all around. And I think this blog world does smile brightly... and the friendships are one of the biggest blessings that have come from this mess of words I splatter about.

So today, if we were really meeting for coffee, I would sit and listen... enjoy the laughter and the smiling eyes. And the conversations about who has their Christmas decorations put away, and who is still lingering in the season (that would be... me) Maybe we'd ask who decorates for Valentine's Day, and who just skips on ahead to spring. Me? I'll definitely be adding pink and red to my winter-wonderland of snowflakes.

Maybe we'd get around to wondering about weekend plans... and I'd have to tell you, that we are looking forward to a seventeenth birthday...
Thank you for the coffee talk today... I'm happy to be joining in again! Come on over to Amy's... the more, the merrier! 

January 10, 2011

ten on ten: january

Today was Monday...
and it was if Francesca Battistelli wrote this song for just this day.

I lost my keys
In the great unknown
And call me please
'Cause I can't find my phone

This is the stuff that drives me crazy.
This is the stuff that's getting to me lately.
In the middle of my little mess
I forget how big I'm blessed

This is the stuff that gets under my skin
But I've got to trust You know exactly what You're doing
It might not be what I might choose
But this is the stuff you use

But I found my keys, I made it to work... and the bright spot in my day was sharing lunch with Eric, who happened to be in town for a class.   Thanks for reminding me how big I'm blessed
Thank goodness for a plan... dinner in the crockpot, the aroma greeting me at the door, an hour after I usually arrive home.  The hour might have been worth it if the mailman had come to pick up the mail, and had allowed me to retrieve the 300 plus letters that had been dropped in... short a little postage.

But home greets me, and love surrounds me... and the trials of the day are set aside.

linking up to ten on ten... for the very first time.
{Take a photo every hour for ten consecutive hours on the tenth of each month.
Document a day of your life and find beauty among the ordinary moments}

January 09, 2011

winter transition

Less than a week into January and the Christmas tree was packed away... must be some kind of record for me.  I know we had our issues, but once I lowered my expectations to realistic, the Christmas tree and I got along just fine, and there might have been a little Christmas magic working, because I even managed to fall just a little in love with that tree.  But he's gone to the mulcher by now... and I'm left with the pile of what was under the tree... stray needles included.  Now... my decorations that shout-Christmas-from-the-rooftops are nestled, once again, in layers of tissue.  And the others?  The snow men, stacked three high... the little town that peers down from the shelf... and the nativities I can't bear to tuck away, well, they have become part of winter
Winter is... my decorating loophole. 
My justification to have both peppermint and holly and blue & white with rainbow striped scarves.
My excuse to enjoy just a little longer

The tiny white triangles speckled across my floor outnumbered the evergreen needles... but my scissors kept snipping and dancing away with my imagination until there were enough to string across the shelves and hang from the lights.  The only snow I'll see here in Florida...
And all the while, trading red glass for blue, green candles for white, I called myself crazy.  In less than a month I'll be hauling the red back out to mix with the pink for Valentine's Day!  But the lacey white and smiling faces drew me right back in and I couldn't help myself. 
Oh, let the crazy blow in the breeze...

January 05, 2011

waste not a moment

We made the most of Christmas break... because if I only have eighteen summers, then I need to supplement those summers by grabbing each and every minute in between them.  Sometimes I don't.  And sometimes... there is only time to gasp for a single breath between the fun.

We roasted marshmallows, we looked down on the treetops, we gazed at the stars and then, in the quiet, we whispered our goodnights.  We browsed through books, we sang out loud... shared time with family, laughed and we celebrated this life we live.  We wandered paths, found a heart shaped leaf and sailed across lakes... admiring wildlife in the wild and at the zoo.  And we sat in the dark, hands meeting in the larger-than-life bucket of popcorn as stories unfolded before us.  Eyes met in amazement and we chattered away as we watched the previews...

This was one of those weeks, one of those seasons, that will keep me warm after my eighteen summers have passed.  I'll look back and know... that we had it all.

January 04, 2011

with gusto

Everywhere, in everything... I long to create beauty.  In the mirror, across the table, with fabrics... with a paintbrush.  I work over whatever it may be... until I am satisfied with the result.  Or...  until I just give up, throw in the towel.  I am careful... and quick to toss out the creations I deem not-beautiful-enough.

Cam and I went painting... each of us concentrating on our own canvas.  I only offered him one directional tip, and left the rest to him and his smile.  I worked over my own piece longing for it to be... so beautiful... but I was stuck on the tree trunk.  Wanting to go back and retrace my steps, I worked and worked at it... and finally decided I could be happy.  And then?  It was time to splatter paint.  Camden leaped from his perch and was ready with brush in hand.  I was still stuck on the splatter part.  Splatter?  Over all of this I had labored over?  I set my painting aside and went to watch Camden... and oh, what a show!  He danced around his canvas... sending karate chops of paint splattering across the sunset, across the trees, and he laughed the entire time.  I was caught up in his gusto... what mother wouldn't get lost in her child's complete and utter joy?!  Giving it one last glimpse he declared it was complete... and turned his eyes to mine.

I gave in, decided to give the splattering a try.  Shoes abandoned, jeans rolled, brush loaded with water and paint... and I could barely flick that brush.  I gritted my teeth and splayed out my arm, only to grab it back as quickly as it left my side.  Again, and again.  There was no joy to my dance... no gusto.  And I wanted it.  On my fourth or fifth trip around the canvas my movements became a bit looser, but with a single splatter my eye decided was too large and I was finished. 

Paint dry, and I looked over my creation again.  I saw it there... the beauty.  In the sunset streaked sky and the wisps of the tall grass.  And in the gold splattered across my giraffe's back.  I was content but for the wondering... wondering what it would have felt like to splatter with gusto...

here is what you've been waiting for!

January 03, 2011

watching time skip on

Pajama-clad legs and slippered feet gathered around the crackling of the fire, we warmed our hands on tumblers of hot cocoa and sweet, creamy coffee... and watched as the birthday clock  flipped from 13 to 14. 

Oh yes, it is true... there is hardly a glimpse of baby in that face that has stretched and slimmed and is working its way towards chiseled.  I flicker between joy and sorrow, but rest in mystified.  The hows and whys are for Him alone... I am just witness to time skipping by. 
This is his time... his day.  To laugh and climb and smile and wish, and I am pretty sure we covered it all.


January 02, 2011

reliving the fresh air

My toes were itching to run before the car came to a complete stop, and I couldn't keep them from tapping their own song as we pulled into the site. The doors flew open and there we were... Myakka River, site 12. One glance in Eric's direction was all that was necessary, and at his nod, we took off, to be reunited with Big Beauty.
She seemed a little smaller... or perhaps Cam has grown that much.  But Big Beauty?  It is still her name, and she wears it well. 

As the tent was unfurled, we were showered with sand... and memories of the last time we camped as a family. One year ago in St. Augustine, and just five months ago on the Serengeti! We worked together, the four of us, to pitch the tent and create a two-night home. Chairs were placed around the fire ring, rope lights were strung up around the picnic table... and the deep breath that filled my lungs was fresh and clean. 
Chicken 'n' dumplings simmering in the pot, laughter singing through the sunset, and just us.  All of it reminded me how much I really love to camp, of how little it would take to convince me to be an adventure girl...

January 01, 2011


Staying up until midnight, or falling asleep just before and being awakened at midnight, to watch the old year fade and the new begin leaves me slightly unsettled. Everyone is stepping out into the new, and I find myself hanging back... lingering in the last few days of the old and encouraging it all to flow on into the new. I'm not quite ready to release the old just because I am posting a fresh new calendar on the fridge. I'd rather just turn another page and the let life overflow... because there is too much beauty to put behind me, too many life-lessons to tuck into neverland, too much yesterday to hide from today. So here I sit, feeling just a bit greedy, wanting it all... past, present and future.

Happy New Year... I hope you raise your face to the sun and feel His warmth and love all around you. I hope life makes you smile, dance and sing... and that you find your heart is overflowing with beauty.
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