February 28, 2011

filling up

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Sunlight breaking through the clouds, or dancing across my floor.  Light filtering through the leaves giving them a green-gold almost magical glow.  The lone hibiscus turning her face towards the sun, absorbing life.  And in the late afternoon... the sunlight twinkles through the trees.  The sun fills me up.  It fills me like laughter or a smile from my kids.  It fills me the way a quiet I love you does when it is whispered in my ear.   It fills me like a lyric from a song... speaking right to my heart.  And all of this is okay... because in the same breath drawn of amazement, I recognize it is all from Him, the One who created every scrap of life, every good and perfect gift.  He has woven Himself into every fiber of me... so that in all I do, or see, or seek, He is a part of it. 

With a stern look, we are told to put God first. 

Twice this week already... I have reminded friends that you need to make time for yourself if you plan to be of any use to your family, to your endless lists, to the things that make life work.  I believe it whole heartedly.  Too often in this world, we feel not enough, even if we choose to hear Him tell us that we are enough in Him.  Maybe it is because we are racing about trying to be super-woman when we know it is not possible.  And when I realized that?  I felt empty and not enough...and even if buckets of tears and mounds of chocolate could fill me, I wouldn't have accepted it.   But who can really do it all when their back is aching from bending to pick up stray socks, the to-do list from yesterday still weighs heavy in your pocket, you can't tell if you are coming or going, and dinner needs to be served... again?  And at every turn, you are beckoned... Mom, Ma, Mommy?  I never would have believed that I would grow tired of their voices calling me...

So we make a list of priorities... and even though it is hard and we know we will fail, we are told to put God at the top.  Next?  Husband.  Children.  Work.  The list goes on... and someone is always last.  And that someone?  It falls to us, because how could we place ourselves anywhere else?  That would be... selfish.

But what if He doesn't want me to make a list?  And what if He doesn't really need to be first, but instead desires to simply be a part of everything?  My Pastor encourages this... to make sure God is at the center of everything we do, everything we love, every first-second-third (and so on) most important thing.  And in that, my life becomes a circle, with Love in the center, instead of a long endless list that has me at the bottom.  And in that center, God is like sunshine... reaching out His rays into every bit of everything, weaving Himself into my life, feeling and seeing Him every moment. 

And the list goes on... #8-14 of 1,000 gifts:
-skittering sunshine.  always the sunshine.  always.
-she leaned in for a kiss goodbye.
-the breeze wrapped itself around me when I walked out the door... and then I caught the sweet scent.  I knew it was orange blossoms... but to me, it is the sweet breath of Jesus.
-the mystery chalk person and her cheery message.
-God peeking through the clouds... disguised as rays of sun.
-discovering a nest in the bushes... and watching the mama and daddy birds working to build it up.
-the salt air, the refreshing breeze, sand, surf and peace that I always find just beyond lot 3.


I wonder how long it will take me to get to 1,000. 
And then, I realize it doesn't matter... because I have no doubt that list will go beyond that number anyway.

February 23, 2011

6-2+2-1-1-1-1-1=1

You don't have to get hung up on math. 
It is the equation I need today... to remind me of my riches.  To have had six grandparents at any stage of my life, let alone two stages... is a blessing too big to fathom. 
I know that some people never even know one
But I didn't just have them, I knew them.  My life was impacted by theirs... and I have a storehouse of memories.  I am far beyond rich.  And as they have passed from this life to the promise of the next, I have cried and remembered... and fallen in love all over again. 

The call came last night... as we were on our way to celebrate a birthday.  I called my sister back from the car and we talked for less than five minutes.  I begged my husband not to tell anyone at the party.  I held it all in.  Until late last night, after I had finally spoken with my Dad.  My grandmother's passing was a blessing.  At 93 she was ready, perhaps past ready.  My swollen eyes attest to my sadness, but grief seems almost too strong a word.  Because she lived a full life that was decorated with friends and family... and the past years have not been as beautiful as one would hope for. 
But the ending? 
Oh, I hope it was lovely. 
I hope she was dreaming.  I hope memories danced before her eyes, and that my Grandpa was waiting just beyond them.  He was always known to be a grouch, so I'm sure he might have been slightly annoyed that it had taken her eleven years to find her way Home.  And I can just about hear her laughter as she brushed his scowl aside. 

Gently, knowing that tears are sure to follow, I let the memories resurface.  Hot oatmeal in her kitchen, and the bowl of ice cream that I stirred to melted soup... fluffy food.  Trips to the toy store... Barbies, Strawberry Shortcakes... and outfits too many to count.  Walks through Wheeler Park... all the way to the bench, passing the fallen down tree along the way.  Bingo at the hall... or in her living room.  Bedspreads that changed with the seasons.  Ravioli and soft biscotti.  Late night TV watched from the sofa bed, and the flash of her knitting needles, even in the dark.  Candy dishes... always full.  And that trip... when I was eight

These pieces of my life remind me how special, how important, a grandparent can be.  And I speak the words to the One who has them in His care... thank you.

February 21, 2011

to savor…

He knew right where to find the scissors... middle console. Because you know you always need a pair in the car. He sliced the top of the first package open, leaving the other four in his lap, put the scissors back in the middle console, and then finally, peeked into the shiny packet. It's the Explorer! Piece by piece, he clicked the lego mini-figure together until that explorer was peering at us through a magnifying glass as large as his head. With a smile, Cam set him on the dashboard. I expected him to tear into the next shiny package, but instead he sat with the checklist that had accompanied the little pieces and he picked his favorites. He reached into the middle console for the scissors again... and then replaced them before reaching in and making the next discovery. Sombrereo Man! We laughed as he assembled him... me, with eyes flickering between watching the road and his nimble fingers. Sombrero Man joined Explorer on the dash and Cam opened the middle console once again. This time he decided to keep the scissors out... but the process went on and on for miles...


I loved the way he savored the experience... giving each treasure its due. In my amazement, I wondered how I would have experienced it, and knew, that in my ever-present multi-tasking mode, I would have stacked all five packages together and made one quick slice with the scissors. I probably wouldn't have dumped all the pieces, but I surely would have peeked into each package, one by one, freeing the mystery. And all of the expectation of hope.

How often do I rush through to the end... and miss the joy in the process?

Always. Go, go, go. I am very efficient.

But maybe the time has come... to slow down and savor the ordinary. I am good at savoring the special moments, even making little moments special. I am better at savoring dessert. And I am getting better at savoring the everyday. Maybe efficiency isn't all I thought it was. Maybe cutting off 5 minutes of time leaves me weary instead of joyful, even if there is a smug sense of satisfaction that comes with it.

Smug or joy? No contest. Joy wins... even just the thought of it. Savoring begins... now.

And as I savor, I also begin to count...

#1-7 of One Thousand Gifts.

-He makes the most out of everything... savoring and drawing joy.  And his fourteen-year-old heart shines and shares... and I am in awe of it.
-Chatting with my girl all the way to to barn... unlike most Saturdays when we ride just listen to the radio.
-One-two-three-four of the most gorgeous days, all in a row.
-Sun and moon in one glance.
-His arms around me, his breath on my neck... whispering good bye and have a good day and I love you.
-Really singing to God, instead of just following the notes on a page.
-Finding the perfect gift for a friend, and the hurry up and get here feeling in my soul, waiting for her birthday.

February 19, 2011

early in the morning

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I realize it will be... just moments before it happens. 

I have been following the moon for miles... from beautiful, bright and glowing to a mere translucent whisper in the sky.  But the world is warming with the soft glow of sunshine with the softest rainbow-shadow hovering on the horizon.  She has not yet shown her face, but the promise is there. 

I turn the corner and notice the reflection in the mirror...  the moon is now following me, and I let out a laugh.  I continue on my way, and suddenly, the sun is risen.  Her golden light chasing through the trees, gilding the morning.  This is a gift.  To see both moon and sun in one glance.  The night behind me, the day before me.  Beauty in both.  In the same moment I wish for my camera, and know that this is not something to be captured... I simply need to etch it on my heart.  So I keep on driving... wondering if the cars around me see what I see, or if they are trying to block the sun from their sight.  I only allow a moment of grief for them... and though I drive on, I lift my face, just a bit, to the sun. 

For seven miles... I thank Him for this gift.  Beauty behind me, and the brightest future ahead.  He tells me it is His promise.  The brightest future is ours... eternally.

February 15, 2011

{virtual coffee} 10

I'm just sitting down in the living room and the afternoon sun is flittering its way across the floor.  My second favorite time of day... the first being the morning when the sun flitters in from the other direction!  Anyway, I have an hour before Eric walks in the door, and while that might be enough time for virtual coffee, I know that we couldn't have real coffee in any less than two hours!  In 2011 I have become quite fond of two hour lunches with friends.  I'm not sure I mentioned that I met Dawn from the Goodlife over New Years.  My husband thought I was crazy, but he just sighed and gave in... because even he knows that when someone is in Florida all the way from Colorado you have to seize the moment!!  And he might admit that he had as good a time as I did with Dawn & her husband!  And my other two hour lunch?  This past Friday with two local friends... 
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There was cheesecake and good news... prayers are chipping away at ugly numbers and my friend's tumor markers are slipping down, down, down.  Oh the power of prayer!!!  Thank you... for adding yours to mine and thousands of others. 

I needed that nice lunch last Friday... it kept me from thinking too much about the awful message Blogger sent me!  I guess i have reached my photo storage limit.  EEK! I didn't know that Blogger stores your blog photos in an online picasa album.  I didn't know that I was even near 100% of my storage.  And I sure as heck didn't know what to do next!  But after some research and tyring to figure out if I should move my blog(and how?!), Erin's advice seemed the easiest.  Just buy some more storage.  So I might... but for now I am trying to use photobucket... even though I know I will eventually run out of storage there, too! 

So if you were really sitting here in the sunlight with me, I would probably show you this picture...
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Our church.  It is coming right along and it is hard to believe that in September it was just a pile of dirt.  The church part is actually small... it is the learning center that is so big and amazing!!  I just know that this building will be a blessing to so many... from the little babies that will stretch out in the cribs, to the people that will worship and sing praises to the King! 
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I've been hearing about all kinds of warm-ish temperatures up north (relative, I know!)... so I hope you won't mind me telling you I dipped my toes in the gulf on Sunday.  My whole family gathered for a beautiful brunch just before my parents headed off on their latest adventure- Costa Rica.  The sand and surf was just calling to me from the window and I couldn't leave without at least walking in the sand.  If I hadn't been in my church clothes I might have plopped myself right on down!  The sad part of the walk on the beach?
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Yes... this is a single family home.  It actually makes my stomach turn.  I can't look at it without thinking about how many people could be helped with that kind of money.  In my wildest dreams, I would love a little bungalow on the beach and be able to step out into the sand at any moment.  And a little luxury is nice!!  But this?  It is too much... 

Well the clock is ticking and I can hear rumbling stomachs from the other room. 
I guess I need to figure out dinner... we had tacos last night or I would be making this!!! 

Visit Amy at Lucky Number Thirteen for coffee!  There is always a smile there! 

February 14, 2011

valentine love

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Early this morning the traffic guy gave a shout out to his wife & kids… thanking then for the Valentine they had snuck into his car before his early morning ride to the TV studio. And on my walk, there was a pretty red box wrapped in cellophane waiting for an unsuspecting someone on the trunk of their car. Sweet, I thought. There were years that I left surprises like that everywhere for my Sweetie. But this year? I am feeling kind of lame. Our house is decked out in pinks and reds and multi-colored candy hearts… and I had a million ideas to make beautiful Valentines… but I lost my motivation on the ride home from work Thursday. And over the weekend? Well, it never returned.

This year, we declared no gifts… because neither one of us need any more chocolate, or really, anything else. So we packed the weekend with time spent together. Just us. And all four of us. And we exchanged cards yesterday at Walgreens… kinda. We each chose one we would have bought and then exchanged them right there in the store. And then put them back. While our hearts sing All We Need Is Love, the world around us is chipping away at our song and the guilt is quietly slipping in telling us that we should do more. Part of me wants to shout back nuh-uh… and other parts of me want to run through the Valentine aisle and grab a bunch of I Love You balloons and stacks of sparkling red hearts. And maybe just a little chocolate.

But in the end, I decide to remain strong. I accepted his text-invitation to $4.99 tacos, and I will frost my red velvet heart shaped cakes for dessert. And the four of us will sit and laugh together and probably tease about loooooove. And I will know for sure that all of the extras I could have bought would not have made the night any more beautiful…

February 11, 2011

him+me=love

He laughed his way out the door yesterday and it lingered within me all day.  An extra push towards a weekend full of possibility.  Every other week we have three days off together... and though the days fly by in an ordinary flurry of crazy, they are our days, our beautiful days.  And once in a while... we manage to sneak off for a date. 
his choice of breakfast and mine...

This time we spend fills me.  It fills me, and excites me... as we journey to another phase of us.  There was a time when I thought the kids would never be just-a-bit-older... and now?  Life is racing towards a time when it will be just us once again.  And so when we take an hour or so to wander a farmers market, or grab a couple of stools at a bar to share burgers & tacos, it is a glimpse of tomorrow.  And it is good
It's amazing how you can speak right to my heart...
Try as I may I could never explain what I hear when you don't say a thing.

The smile on your face lets me know that you need me

There's a truth in your eyes saying you'll never leave me
The touch of your hand says you'll catch me...
Whenever I fall.
-lyrics from When You Say Nothing at All by Ronan Keating



There is no doubt that he is the love of my life.  Not one...

February 10, 2011

ten on ten: february 2011

Thursday... the last day of my work week.  I stepped out into the fog with a Friday feeling, toting my camera along for ten on ten.   
Finally at work, safe and sound, I peer out through my window and seek my view- except that it was blocked in by the fog bank over the Gulf.  All day the fog rolled in and out... and the day stretched on.  Sleepiness kept sneaking in and then I remembered... I had been awake since just before three. 

I worked away the afternoon, thankful for a bulletin board full of smiling faces... egging me on towards the weekend.  The mess all aound me makes me laugh... but finally, the clock inches its way around, I restore order, and wish everyone a great weekend. Homeward bound. 
A turn into the neighborhood, and my mouth strikes a grin.  Almost there.  

In the door, greeted by Laura and Cam... and I was tempted to put on my jammies and curl up for a nap.  But then the sunshine broke through... scattering golden light around the livingroom.  Enough motivation to make a cup of tea and treat myself to cranberry swirl toast. 
When Eric walks in the door I can't help but sing It's the weekend!  It's the weekend!  And it is... for both of us.  After dinner there is a little tv and time to just be...
(not a very clear picture of Cam... but I loved how both he & Scout were looking up at me!)
Finally settling in my panda jammies... and a little American Idol.  Let the weekend begin! 
(Uh... yes.  That is my winter village, still up on February tenth... four days after the Superbowl!)

Linking up for ten on ten fun!  And maybe next month the 10th won't fall on a work day?  Oh wait.  Yes, it will.  I'll have to find another view of my work to share! 


February 08, 2011

{virtual coffee}

Monday seemed to last forever, but here it is Tuesday... at last! And if we were really meeting for coffee this afternoon, the first thing you might notice is my smile... and the way it is reaching all the way up to my eyes.  Not at all like last week.  Thank you... for your prayers and good thoughts, the support and the love you offered.  We are still waiting on the healing, but a peace has come and settled itself over us... God reaching out and reminding us that no matter what the circumstances are, it can still be well with our soul
The second thing?  Maybe you would notice my pretty new mug?  I finally made it downtown to pick up the treasures we painted on Laura's birthday.  I am thrilled with how the mug turned out.  I had no ideas and I almost decided not to paint at all... and then Laura & Cam suggested Africa.  That was all it took.  Africa... still tangled up in my heart. And sitting here with my cup of tea, sunshine glinting in through the window, lasagna in the over and no where to be but here, I feel happy. 
I wish I could share some of this sunshine with you... and the beautiful air.  Amy's report of negative degrees reminded me of how much I love Florida winters!  I hope you don't mind if I share some silliness with you... promise you won't hate me though!  The other night a friend posted this on facebook... just bought the last four containers of ice melt on the planet.  I read it, and immediate wondered what ice melt was?  A new kind of ice cream?  Like dippin' dots?  Or....oooohhhhhhhhhhhh.  Oops!  Yes, that is how long I've lived in Florida!!  Go ahead, laugh at me.  No day is complete without a good laugh! 
I hope you laugh today. And find somewhere to warm your toes.
Happy Tuesday!

February 04, 2011

a memory and more

I settled into my seat and flipped through the bulletin... seeking a glimpse of what God had in store for me this Sunday morning.  A hymn I love, one I don't, a scripture I had never read... and then the Gospel Lesson.  The beatitudes.  I could feel the sigh slink out, and then the smile that snuck up on my face.  The beatitudes are some of the first verses I ever read... not on thin almost-see-through pages, but on colored glass around the church that was my start. 
A girl of ten doesn't quite give her full attention to the speaker before her, and seeks distraction to fill the time.  Daydreamer that I have always been, my eyes would always flee to the window.  Church was no different... except that I focused on the window itself rather than what was just beyond it.  The colors and the swirling vines delighted me, and the words etched themselves within me.  And even though I didn't quite understand them, I felt like we were kindred spirits, those window-words and me.

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kindgom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. 
-found in Matthew 5

Today, I find comfort in those words all over again, and with a lot more life behind me, the words stir my spirit and shed light on what is real, where my heart needs to be.  I know that my spirit must cling to God, because I need my Savior.  When my heart breaks over the world, it is in Him I can find comfort... peace.  And am I meek?  I have always believed so... and pictured my shy self peeking from my hiding place in the dark.  But His Light tells me meekness is humble patience... strength under control.  Strength not for my will, but for His purpose.  Maybe I need to take a step closer to meek.  And I am sure, at ten and twelve and twenty, I did not have an inkling about hungering or thirsting for God... but now, most days I crave Him.  I long to be more like Him, and show my little world less of me.  I yearn for the pureness that is Jesus.  And peace?  I yearn for that, too.  At every turn.

I am years and miles and so many states away from the church where I began... but the steeple that reaches into the sky, the sturdy wooden banister that rounds around the bell rope, the altar where I made promises for my life and the windows that declare me blessed will forever be... a part of me.

February 02, 2011

{virtual coffee}

I felt bad… not showing up for {virtual coffee} yesterday. But I couldn’t find the courage to drag my red-rimmed eyes and my fog- veiled heart out of the house. Or risk someone putting their arms around me, lest I shatter in a million pieces.

My friend is sick.
Yes, cancer.
Second time around.
And I’m sadder than I have been in a really long time.

I sit (and stand and drive and work) in prayer… and ask the God of the universe for healing and peace. I know He can do all things, and even this is not out of His reach… if it is His will. The prayers go ‘round and ‘round through my head and heart and I lay them all in His most capable hands. And then I grab them back greedily and pray some more. As if I can fix this simply by praying enough. I find myself lost and confused… as if by praying the same words over and over again I don’t trust Him enough. Like I think that if I pray longer and louder and then drench the words with tears, He will know how much I desire this. If I didn’t know differently, I could see the logic in that… but I do know differently, I know that God hears every prayer. Whispered, unspoken, shouted and sung. So is it really necessary to pray without ceasing? I don’t know the answer. So I keep on praying. And with the prayers come a few more tears.

In the midst of my own messy emotions, I received an email from my Mom.  If anyone knows how I can pile on the weight of sadness, it is her.  And she wrote... I know that you feel this with every molecule of your being and that you must cry. That is not a bad thing but you must put it in God's hands. You cannot carry the burden by yourself. You can't fix it. You must accept God's will. Dawn, go to your blog and click on "why beyond grace?" read it....and then let God take over....let Him help you to accept His will.  And so I did... even though I was not happy she threw my own words right back at me.  But I suppose, it is a mother's job.  And that very first post I ever wrote... well, it made me cry a little more.  But it also helped me adjust my perspective, and let His grace, and all that it means, wash over my soul.  Thank you, Mom. 

Today I am doing better about holding the tears in check. Because I saw her last night and she looks good and strong. And even in her fear, she exudes such grace. She told me she is due some good news… and so I pray for that… for good news. And if there is not good news? Well, there is Jesus. The best news there is.

I'm link up to Amy's {virtual coffee} even though I am late... because there are good people there... and a few more prayers certainly can't hurt.