December 24, 2012

hopes and dreams and love...

The North Pole has shared a breath of chilly air with Southwest Florida... a bit of Christmas magic, as we bundle in jeans, scarves and closed toe shoes.  I even slipped on the gloves Ann gave me for Christmas last year...

We are ready for Christmas.
Treasures are wrapped, waiting to be tucked under the tree after my not-so-littles head for sugar plum dreams.  Their lists were not long this year... and their contentment in life, with life, makes this heart only thankful.

Tonight, in soft flickering candlelight, we'll hear the Christmas story.  It is my favorite. A gift of humble hope that saved the world. Saved my life. Saves my life.

Wishing you a beautiful Christmas... one of hope and dreams and love...

I am not brave
I'll never be
The only thing my heart can offer is a vacancy
I'm just a girl
Nothing more
But I am willing, I am Yours

Be born in me, be born in me
I'll hold you in the beginning, You will hold me in the end
Every moment in the middle, make my heart your Bethlehem
Be born in me
- Born in Me, Francesca Battistelli


December 21, 2012

hello forty-one...

Forty-one.  And blessed, so blessed.
Emily posted this quote not too long ago...

"I think it is more important to celebrate a birthday than a successful exam, a promotion, or a victory. Because to celebrate a birthday means to say to someone: Thank you for being you. Celebrating a birthday is exalting life and being glad for it. On a birthday we do not say: Thanks for what you did, or said, or accomplished. No, we say: Thank you for being born and being among us.“
-Henri  Nouwen, Here and Now

It spoke to my soul... and my love of birthdays. And perhaps it sheds light on why my own birthday often leaves me on the verge of tears. I can't seem to read a whole card without them hovering, or open a gift withouth one escaping.  More than one sent a birthday message to their beautiful friend and the first one had tears rolling down my face for more than a few minutes.  If there is any day that will make you feel beautiful, it is a birthday... so full of love, from the inside out.

Eric outdid himself... leaving a card in my purse as I went off to work, and then having one waiting for me at the door when I came home. He cleaned and he cooked... and our home was soon filled with Mexican food and family. Love. On a birthday.  Oh yes, God chose the right man for me.

Candles lit... wishes and laughter filled the room. I can't quite count my blessings fast enough!  A December birthday may not be easy... but the 20th is just the right day for me, nestled right into the season of joy.  And the joy goes on and on...

December 19, 2012

make room...

Tonight my son will play a busy innkeeper.
He'll sweep in, buzzing about chaotic December, ponder the young couple he made room for in his stable, then sweep out, deciding that they'll be fine and he doesn't need to check on them.  It makes me think about the making room in our hearts and our lives, and then missing out on the very thing we made room for.

I swirl a finger through the dust of my go-to devotional, and leaf through until I find the message for today. Those Jesus-breathed words speak to my very day.  Tears flow, because I know... that there would be words for every day if I just flipped opened the orange-gold cover. The busy of December rushes me and the crush starts to weigh heavy. But I must make room... and then still my soul to rest in the glory of His Light.

December 17, 2012

with hope

The sun rose in ribbons today. 
Ribbons of dusky blues and golds.  They stretched across the sky like arms flung open, from the east to the west, before they gave way to the pink-orange glow of the sun. Pink-orange must surely be the color of joy...

I kept the television off for most of the weekend.  There was a time when I could not get enough information {Oklahoma, Colorado, New York} and now I flip the screen to black, knowing the alternative is too much information. I don't want to listen to the sorting out... as one person's speculations contradict another's. My heart simply can't take it...

My son's jaw fell at the news, and his eyes filled. I had no answer for his could someone be so cruel?  Through my own tears I gave only what I know. That is seems impossible right now, but God will cast beauty on even this.  Maybe not today or tomorrow, or even next week... but I have to believe that it will come in the stories of families and heroes.  He nodded, silently, while his eyes begged for more. With a deep breath and a rolling tear, I give him the last smidgen of hope I know. When we are filled with fear and our mind takes us to the very worst thing that could happen to us, and that the worst thing would be death... we need to hold on to the hope that in the very next moment we would be in the arms of Jesus. 

And since there is no changing history, so this hope-filled heart wants only to imagine that moment... His arms full of clamoring children and laughter and love.  And just maybe, a bit of dancing in that pink-orange glow of joy...

December 13, 2012

mercyme, light, tears and hope...

It is not often he looks at me and says I really want that... and sometimes I wonder if we have gone overboard in training them not to ask for things. Once in a while though, one of them does come right out and ask, rather than make the I wish or that sounds fun statement.  And so when he actually asked, I found a way.

The lights drew me in, before the first note was even played... the way they covered the crowd and sent glittering reflections into the rafters.  And when the music sounded, we were on our feet, clapping and singing, taking it all in.  It might have been the first time I have seen my son so caught up in worship... and to watch him experience that honest joy filled my heart...

It was not long before MercyMe played the first notes of The Hurt & The Healer... and not too long before my tears began to fall in rivers.  The songs takes me to Ann's side, even though I never got to be. 

Sometimes I feel it’s all that I can do
Pain so deep that I can hardly move
Just keep my eyes completely fixed on You
Lord take hold and pull me through
I felt my husband's hand on my back, and then my shoulder.  He let my tears fall, because he knew that my soul needed the release...
So here I am
What’s left of me
Where glory meets my suffering
I’m alive
Even though a part of me has died
You take my heart and breathe it back to life
I’ve fallen into your arms open wide
When the hurt and the healer collide
When I hear those words, I know that losing Ann on earth was only her gain. My tears turn on me, bubbling up in selfishness... how can I cry for her when humanity is overcome by majesty and grace is ushered in for good?  Heartache can be soothed though, with so much hope... and through the tears, I love imagining her meeting with the Healer.
the second half of the show was all Christmas!

Worshipping in the arena on a December evening was all blessing. A perfect way to kick off Advent... and sink into the joy that covers Christmas. I'm not sure I realized how much he really loves MercyMe,  but now I know.  I'm so glad he asked!   

December 12, 2012

sweet shot

He lives for seasonal candy. 
As the story goes, when he was little, he hit a girl for taking the last green Swedish fish. Since my favorite is red, I thought this would be the perfect solution for both of us. But I guess I was wrong...

December 11, 2012

when easy is not in reach...

I cannot imagine that anyone ever claimed that mothering was easy... but why, some days, does it need to be so hard?

Her call comes, she says I'm OK but... and I try my best to focus on the OK part, but the rest of my mind focuses on the rest. As I move toward her, I pray outloud... because I need Him to hear me. God please, please, let me be the mother she needs right now and not say one of the other things that is running through my head. Please. Breathe into me what You would say, and not what my mouth begs to shout.

I saw the flashing lights before I saw her... but then there she was. Handling it all, juggling insurance cards, license, the other driver (also OK) and the firemen. But when she saw me, the tears started. Not the sad I'm so sorry, please forgive me tears, but the deep if I could turn back time I can't believe this happened kind that rip at your own heart and soul. She wasn't even thinking that I could forgive her, since she couldn't even forgive herself. 

I was stiff and awkward out there in the road... but He would not let me say the wrong thing. Even so... I was mad at myself for not being the stellar mother I wish I could be.  The one sweet thing I could muster was straight from the heart of Jesus... there is nothing you could do that would make me not love you.
the sunset can make almost anything lovely...

Driving home ... in the quiet of two women with a million thoughts racing through their minds, she reached out for my hand and grabbed on tight. She, who is not a hand-holder or a hugger...

We rode that way, connected and quiet, with all of the good unsaid communicated in our grasp.

: :
That intertwining of fingers was a Tuesday gift... one that I couldn't quite share last week, the emotion so very, very raw.   This week the world seems brighter, even in the dark and dreary rain...

December 06, 2012

captured by the lights

The tree is finally up. Lights, no decorations.
On the sixth day of December, I feel behind on my decorating... which doesn't bode well for the boxes of Christmas treasure stacked in the garage. I was already feeling like that I might decorate lightly this year...

While the church was being decorated last night, we talked about the Christmas tree. Evergreen. Always. For Jesus, who is always.  And the lights, oh how they twinkle and capture my heart.  They are for the light that Jesus brings to our life.  

I sit and sip and let myself be warmed by the hot tea and the brilliant lights. Inside and out.
Those lights can almost fool me into believing that the ornaments aren't necessary. But each ornament is such a part of our life, capturing one moment in time. Gifts that we have only because of the One who is life itself.   And so the boxes will come out soon... and we will unwrap and remember and laugh.  {I might even let a tear or two fall... every year those pre-school ornaments somehow become more and more precious to my heart.} 

Taking another moment to gaze, I realize...  that once the tree is fully adorned, those lights will not only twinkle, but they will send reflections of glass and glitter, only magnifying the wonder...

There are two ways of spreading light;
to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. 
-Edith Wharton

December 03, 2012

for love...

December is here, once again.
It takes a long time getting here, this month of celebration, and then flies by before I can catch my breath. But each day, we take a moment to savor it.
In the reading…
Mary's perspective on the first Christmas
And in the counting down…
I wrap her little trinkets in a hurry… not wanting to get caught in the act. She never said a word when there was no sign of Advent calendars Saturday morning. But the light in her eyes when she finally spotted them Sunday tugged at my soul. I would give her the world. This year the world comes in the form of chap stick. She tears and crumples the paper in her fist all at once, and then swipes her lips with the flavor of the day, smiles, and slips her new treasure into her pocket. It was worth it… the counting, the sorting, the recounting and finally, the wrapping.
He loves the Lego Advent calendar… and Richella tells me that as long as it still brings joy, I should provide it. She is one smart, beautiful lady.  Because it is not only his joy, it is mine. To see his nimble fingers snap bricks together… to be the target of those smiling eyes. He will be sixteen before the month is over… and yet I am almost sure that he could still fit just right into the crook of my arm.
Last year I filled a bag of Advent goodies for Ann.  As my kids tear into their goodies, smile and laugh, I think of her texts… the sweet notes about one tiny treasure or another, and the joy it brought me.  I think she couldn’t believe that someone would do that for her… but I think Christmas is not just for the littles, it is for love.

Emily has opened up Tuesdays Unwrapped for December... and it makes my heart shout hooray!  It is a sacred special place, where the messy is beautiful and friends are made...  join her?


November 30, 2012

on the last day of november...

Dear Southern Gal,
I am copying you because I love you. Okay? I want to say more, but I'm afraid I'll forget what I was planning on writing...

Dear God,
I loved hearing her shout Mrs. G! Thank you for that not-by-chance-meeting in the aisles of Target. To look up and see my zippy-yellow-car-friend and her daughter was a surprise, but I know that only you could orchestrate this meeting of hearts.  I cannot get by without the care you give to my heart and soul.

Dear Eric,
Thank you for putting up with the mess of me. Me, and our home. You have softly joked about every surface being covered in sewing... and I wish I could create in a smaller, neater space. I see the love in your eyes though... and I know that you are proud of me. Plus, it was your idea for me to sell these pretty things. thank you for believing in me.

Dear family,
Just one more day and then I can set most of this aside and slow down my pace. After the craft fair tomorrow I won't be as crazy, skipping from room to room to room, tyring to make one more thing. I am looking forward to there being a space on the couch and sitting next to YOU instead of a pile of yarn/zippers/needles/scissors.

Dear Schotts,
Monday night at the beach was beautiful. And just what I needed. Thank you for sharing Moe's Monday with our family!

Dear Laura & Camden,
I love you. I know I joke about being the mean mom... but I'm not really mean! Just remember that I'd rather know than not know...

Dear Tracie,
Happy birthday... today you are a year stronger, a year more beautiful. I am so thankful that you found blessings in your Thanksgiving trip.  I hope today is scattered with love. You bless my life.

Dear Friday,
I know today is usually all ours, but I have to work. Just for a few hours. Next week?  Just you & me.


November 27, 2012

a tuesday ramble...

I can walk & chew gum at the same time…. but I’m not sure I can write and craft in the same day or week,  or maybe even month. Perhaps I am only capable of pouring my creative heart into one venture at a time!   Though you have not seen many words here, they have been swirling about in my mind as my hands have been busy sewing, crocheting or painting. I quietly added a couple of links to my new Etsy store… but I have not mentioned it until now. I’m not really sure why, except for the busy hands reason.  But nonetheless, the little shop is open, and right now my favorite item is the wooden nativity set. It is a story I never tire of telling… and this time, I have told it without words.
I hope your Thanksgiving was as wonderful as ours was! It was a day filled with parade watching and family gathering… and of course, a delicious feast. I came undone when Chelsea wanted us to share something we were thankful for... my heart had been on Ann's family all morning. I am thankful for the time I had with her. So thankful.
The weather, lately, has been truly divine.  Blue skies, crisp air, cool breezes, and so much sunshine!  We spent a Saturday in the park listening to Aaron Shust & Big Daddy Weave! The combination of the music, worship and weather brought me to happy tears as Eric & I relaxed in our chairs. It makes me want to use the park more... to carve out more time to just sit and breathe.
Last night we spent a single hour at the beach. We snapped pictures of friends and laughed away the hour! By the time we left, after the sun dipped below the horizon, our feet were wet and the cuffs of our jeans were coated in sand. I had the beautiful colors of sunset tucked into my heart, and treasure in my pocket. A heart shaped stone. I am continually reminded that he has a gift for finding them, just for me.


November 20, 2012

red light grace

I have spotted her yellow car zipping around town more in the past few weeks than I have in years. As soon as I see it, I make a mental note to send her a card... just to let her know that I know... I know how hard it is to lose a friend... and that I have been praying for her.  But life moves fast, and before I take the time to put pen to paper, I find myself reminded, again, that I haven't.

I noticed her car up ahead of me today... and I thought that if we ended up stopped at a light, and it was possible, I'd roll down my window and say hi. Maybe let her know that she has been on my heart and that I am praying for her.  As the light turned red, I noticed that our cars wouldn't line up, and a ripple of relief flooded me. It was a nice plan in theory, but what if today is the first day she hasn't cried? Or what if she is having an especially hard morning and I only make it worse?  It is the thought that counts...

And then God stepped in, the way He does when I can't get out of my own way.

The car in front of me swooped over in front of her and there we were, window to window. I waved, she waved. I rolled down my window... and as it became apparent that she was doing the same, I took a gulp of air, breathing Jesus in, and said it. You've been on my heart. I've been praying for you. She smiled and said don't make me cry!   We had a few more moments before green moved us on... and I think we were both touched by what He had in store for us this day.

I am a justifier. I can think of a thousand reasons not to do something... and fear usually hovers at the top of that list. But what can you do, when God wraps a moment of time in His love, but scoop into His grace and heap it on another?


November 15, 2012

in the great green room... or, room 4

It started as silliness….
Me, offering to read to him while we were waiting for the doctor.
I browsed through the pile, and under the funny cat book lay treasure…
It has been years since I’ve read to him.  He, too busy with chapters and sci-fi stories that I cannot relate to nor embrace. But sometimes moments must be grabbed in the passing… and this was one.
I was going to read it silly… but my voice could not help falling into the gentle rhythm and pace of the bright familiar pages. The words are an anthem all their own...
Good night kittens, and goodnight mittens…
Good night stars, good night air… good night noises everywhere.
It was a small, simple pleasure...but the rest of the story is not as beautiful.  Still, it must be told.
He made funny faces. He wondered about the socks, and why we didn't say good night to them when we said good night to the mittens. And why, why would you say goodnight to nobody?!  And he thought the old lady was creepy... and where did she go?!  Yes, he makes me laugh. So much for the sentimental!

November 02, 2012

to encourage

He brought me his report card with an explanation… I got a C in my hardest class. His face is firm, and I see only disappointment in his downcast eyes. The rest of the grades are beautiful… but this young man, who has grown accustomed to a list of As could only focus on the C. I look at him and see only brave.  For the first time in five years, he is off of his ADD medication, by his own choice… even knowing that he has scheduled himself for a list of classes that scared me. Honors, advanced, advanced placement, AICE. And his one elective, other than band? Critical Thinking Skills.
I urge him to see the rest of the list… the As and the B.
He is amazing, and I want him to know.

November 01, 2012

when november comes...

I gathered fall leaves in North Carolina... but this little bit of fall color, in our very own tree, makes me smile. Especially against the backdrop of bright sky blue.  I'm not sure how November came 'round so quickly, or how the year keeps quickening pace at all.  But we cannot turn back time, or even slow it...
I love these captures from halloween... my girl against the sun, a smile on her face, and these boys, who paused for a "cheese" in the midst of a silly cell phone struggle. If I stop to remember when, the tears might spring forth... so instead, I ooo and ahhh over the little trick-or-treaters and relish my right now. Because right now comes with knowing and lessons and a heart full of memories.

And the days dwindle down to a precious few,
September, November-
and these few precious days I'd spend with you,
these golden days I'd spend with you.
-Maxwell Anderson


October 31, 2012

beauty along the way...

Thank you for walking through October with me... encouraging me along the way, and loving me through this season of grieving. Thank you for extending grace to me... when I published three days worth of beauty seeking all at once, all late.  You have blessed me, which is something beautiful in itself.

There were days, and will be still, that I sought beauty from morning til night. I wandered the house... frustrated. I wasn't necessarily looking for something big and bold... a tiny sliver would have done. But sometimes I just don't see it. It makes me wonder what is beautiful anyway? And why cannot I not see it?  But I believe it lies in practice and perspective...

We can see life as a sticky mess, or the artwork of God... but only we can make the choice.
This October has reminded me to choose the latter...

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen
 or even touched, but must be felt with the heart.
-Helen Keller

October 30, 2012

there is beauty in the words...

Embrace change.
Take the journey back to yourself.
Love with abandon.
Speak of your gratitude.
Wear red shoes.
Unleash your creative spirit.
Dance in the moonlight.
Be positive.
Believe in healing.
Share your inner light.
Surprise yourself and do the things you didn’t think you could.
Live as if you’ve only been given one chance.


October 29, 2012

beauty is...home

Coming home was... beautiful.
A fifteen year old boy, who of late, only offers a kiss begrudgingly, wrapped his around me and gave me a welcome home kiss.  And my grown-up girl, who is not know for her hugs, threw her arms around me and held on for that extra moment.

There is no place like home...


October 28, 2012

beautiful friendship...

For years, our friendship has been heart to heart... words, emails, gifts and so many prayers. But for more than a year, we have been planning this weekend, setting it aside to turn our heart friendship face to face.  Weeks ago I told her that I would probably cry when we finally met... but this past week has had me only giddy! 

I might have jumped up and down a little bit when she pulled up to the curb and waved, but when we standing face to face, the tears started to escape. And when we were on our way, the conversation was that of two old friends, picking up where our emails and notes left off...

There is something about blogging friendships that makes them true and lovely. Perhaps it is that they are solely based on the heart, and not appearance of self or life. We return to read their words because they mirror the author's soul... and touch a corner of ours. We zip messages back and forth across the country with more honesty than we might even admit to our own hearts... because the written word is so much braver than one spoken...
tracie & me... billy graham library
 These few days have been filled with so much treasure... laughter and conversations and stories and more stories!  Beautiful memories that tie us and our friendship into something very real. 

We are to be catch basin for the fullness of God.
Like a freshly running spring, we are to overflow and let
our lives touch the lives of those around us.
-Billy Graham