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Your Beautiful Life

For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.

Hebrews 3:14

We were newlywed neighbors. Just a couple doors down and about fifty years apart. When I told you that Jonathan and I had moved into that honeymoon nest of an apartment of ours, you giggled and those blue eyes of yours sparkled. The memories of your own newlywed days in that same brick row of apartments brought a certain calm happiness to your voice as you reminisced with me about barbecues with your friends on the green lawn. You told me I’d love it there.

I did.

You’d come to the doctor’s office occasionally, to see another doctor in the practice, and when I’d get a minute (somehow I always knew when you were there), I’d sneak away from that desk of mine and run over to see you. I’d give you a knowing look and ask how your doctor was treating you and you’d give me that side-long glance of yours and ask me how that doctor of mine was treating me. The difference was, you were seeing a doctor for your health and I was merely working for one.

Then, after Firefly was born, you and Billy came to visit. I remember you both, walking up that L-shaped sidewalk, Billy with that certain little gait of his, and you in all your calm vivaciousness. You graced our small living room and sat on our enormous green couch and held our new bundle of pink and said all the things a new mother loves to hear. Those seemingly small gestures of yours . . . they meant the world.

I didn’t know you as well as some others. And I feel a bit out of place here, sharing anything about your life, while the entire church reels at the aftershocks of your passing. But I can’t stop thinking about your beautiful life. You were just that kind of person. Even if a person didn’t know you intimately, what they did know of you, they just simply loved. We couldn’t help ourselves. I can still hear your “HI!, Darlin’!!!” when I’d walk through the church nursery doors . . . you, decades older than all of us young moms, but there anyway, serving children as you’d been doing in this community for longer than most of us moms have been alive. You’d greet me from across the classroom and in your spunky, “glad to see you” steps, you’d patter over to the door and you’d ask me again how to pronounce my girls’ names. And you’d sort of shake your head in disbelief . . . I’ve never been sure if that little head-shake of yours was at how I’d named my girls such unusual names, or at the fact that you could never remember just how to pronounce them. It didn’t matter.

Because Firefly, the one you had in class all last spring just loved Miss Mancy, as she called you. She couldn’t wait for Wednesday morning Bible Study so she could go see you . . . and  watch Veggie Tales. 🙂 Often, when I’d come back to the nursery to pick up my girls, we’d all be tired and hungry and I’d have a difficult time getting the little ones out the door and into the car without a bit of a meltdown. Even while chatting with all the other moms coming to retrieve their little ones . . . did you notice?

One day, I came to pick up Firefly and you came to the half-door and just said, “That Firefly.” And you sort of smacked your lips with this proud kind of look and that side-long glance on your face again. “Don’t you just LOVE her?!”

Did you know that I needed a reminder that my oldest is one of God’s own wonderful creations? Full of her own gifts and talents and that she is more than just a little person to be herded from the nursery classroom to the car? Because you made me stop dead in my tracks and I know my very soul paused in all its frenzy. That someone would love my child like that and take the time to make sure I knew…. You made me love my own little girl all the more – helped me honor that little soul of hers all the more. Yes, you served our children and it kept you young . . . but you served us in your serving.

Now, your race is done and we reflect on the beauty of your steps and thank God for the places where your tread crossed each of ours.

I hope you know.

You are sorely missed.

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Pressing In

Today was not a good day at our house. Nothing hugely catastrophic by most people’s standards (or really even my own if I really think about it!) I haven’t felt very thankful, nor have I had much time today to post anything. But I’m determined to say thanks. Even if my teeth are a little gritted. I don’t want to be hypocritical. But I also think that sometimes, when feeling the most ungrateful, the only way to feel the way out of the ungratefulness, is to call out the gratefulness.

Not hypocrisy.

Choosing.

Today was just a blip in what a day can sometimes be like in a household of three females (ranging in age of 16 months, to 28 years) and one, over-worked daddy. One female is currently a little hormonal, one is three years old (enough said) and one is teething. It was a day of crying, whining, fussing, griping, lamenting, pining, losing control, crying, and wiping away tears and racoon-looking, mascara smudges (Yes, I’m describing me here. Not who you thought, huh?).

You see. I had more than enough reason to be upset. But you know what? I’m the mama. And I didn’t look one bit like a Jesus-filled, loving mama today. Nope. I looked like one of those crazy-eyed mamas you see on reality TV. I don’t want to see her again. She needs to go. Far, far away. I’m slowly starting to realize that this reality TV version of myself seems to appear after eating one too many chocolate chip cookies. Whole wheat or not, they’re wreaking havoc and I think that reality TV woman needs to take her plate of cookies and go on home. Yep. She’s not welcome here in this house anymore. I don’t like her. And neither do my kids.

So, I’m announcing to the world (because I think that may be about what it takes for accountability for me on this one) that sugar is leaving my vocabulary and my diet for a bit. Not completely . . . you know, it’s going to be in certain recipes and things (and *definitely* still in my coffee creamer), but sweets and treats? I think they need to go for a while and maybe we’ll see if a nicer mama appears at our door with a plate of carrots and dip. Because I know I definitely have some heart issues to work on. And believe me, the Lord’s getting an earful on those. But I’m beginning to wonder if too much sugar is part of the issue. I’ll let ya know.

Yeah, so I know this doesn’t have much to do with a Multitude Monday. But this was a bad enough day that I’m desperate. If you know me at all, you know that if I’m willing to give up my chocolate chip cookies for a while? Even for just an experiment? That must be one, mean mama that was here in this house today.

And right now? I’m having to press hard into being thankful….  Thank you, dear readers. You bring accountability.

#422 that her emotions are so keenly felt . . . God can redeem . . . someday, into deep-felt compassion and all-out passion for Him

#423 driving, driving, driving me to my knees . . . nowhere to turn, but Him

#424 the beautiful, heart-melting moments when they laugh and play and love on each other

#425 Firefly, trying to teach Dove to share

#426 the super powers of a protein snack and an early bed-time

#427 the “just checking-in” call from a friend

#428 that he didn’t mind picking up the forgotten sour cream

#429 Dove trying to get the beloved neighbor’s dog to play fetch with her

#430 the way Dove says, “Ouch”

#431 that Dove’s head is hard enough to withstand all the falls onto hardwood floors and running full-speed-ahead into door frames

#432 that Princess band-aids finally won over Firefly’s confidence

#433 waving palm fronds in the car, little white teeth gleaming in the spring sunlight

#434 that my man is such a hard, meticulous worker and provider

#435 that coffee night with girlfriends came on just the right day

#436 little girl excitement over a new toothbrush

#437 the wonders of a tent made with a rose-covered sheet

#438 a recently-turned picky eater, gobbling down poppyseed chicken

#439 that He knows my weariness

#440 that He covers my sin

#441 that my children show me my need for Him

#442 and entrench the comfort of knowing that He is in control

#443 their daddy-given dimples

#444 their soft skin

#445 that love is spilling over in tears . . . this moment

#446 the way she recites John 3:16 . . . “loved the woooorrrrlld”

#447 how Firefly tells me she loves me out of the blue

#448 that Dove just has to come tell me she’s watching Veggie Tales (“Mama, Mama!” Deh Dee Deh!”) and then runs back to the couch

#449 truly spill-proof sippy cups (they’re rarer than I thought)

#450 how Dove leans into my kisses

#451 that I have been given such two, amazingly created, intricately made gifts

#452 that He knows my weaknesses

#453 and maybe He’s given strengths?

#454 and He made us for each other

#455 that He can strengthen bonds

#456 and has

#457 that He asked for our cares and burdens

#458 He knows my fears

#459 that His love casts them out

#460 that He can use, even me

The Accountability

A Simple Monday Thank You

Continuing....

 

#342 seven little girls, all playing happily

#343 getting to visit with their mamas

#344 that I get to sit next to my husband during church

#345 little hands, playing in sand

#346 small confirmations that make it all worth it

#347 white petals snowing down

#348 lemon in my water

#349 bread, cake, and enough chicken . . . that He hears the small requests

#350 and that #349 gives me hope for the bigger heart-cries

#351 new, soft-pink ballet slippers and all her glorious excitement

#352 new, little hands at the piano

#353 an evening walk and that it was warm enough without a jacket

#354 falling asleep to thunderstorms

#355 that thunderstorms make me stop and hold her a little closer

#356 little breath words, like “shoe” and “juice”

#357 laughing together over little-boy communications!

#358 a full living room of friends and making room for new ones

#359 toys, strewn and scattered

#360 hot showers

#361 pink, purple, and orange nail polish

#362 a mama and papa bird, nest-building at our back door

#363 gas in the fuel tank

#364 emails from blogging friends (you know who you are and I just *love* you!)

#365 the way she worries over Japan and pictures of children with cleft lips

#366 Dovey’s arms-around-the-neck hugs

#367 that sometimes arguments give rise to solutions

#368 that he and He can forgive my tantrums

#369 clean sheets

#370 40 full hours of Pandora . . . praising vicariously, when I just don’t feel like I can

#371 and that now I want to . . .

#372 breakfast for dinner and enough to feed a spontaneous two more

 

Just Continuing

Merely continuing the count….

 

#303 rain, rain, rain

#304 a wide-mouth Ball jar, brimming with yellow-gold forsythia

#305 the drawings, the flowers, the drawings, the flowers . . . her always bringing

#306 the “Mom? I wuv you.”

#307 Dovey and her necklaces. All seven of them.

#308 That he still needs me

#309 old friends, gathered around our table

#310 That Borax and Scotch-Guard even work with red wine and curry chicken. And really? That I wouldn’t care if they didn’t.

#311 Five little girls, playing strong, growing friendships

#312 That He listens to my cries, my griping

#313 That He can calm my heart . . . heal it

#314 That he still has the touch . . . his stove-popped popcorn is the best! One less thing for me to do in the kitchen. 🙂

#315 A house.

#316 A roof.

#317 Four walls.

#318 Clothing.

#319 Clean water to drink . . . even ice.

#320 Little girls, dancing with smiles and giggles, tutus twirling

#321 good, long talks with my sis

#322 cardinals hopping on our patio

#323 beautiful, March sunshine

#324 That I could pull out the Chacos!

#325 the way He keeps turning my heart to Him in the waiting

#326 that only He can satisfy

Joining others in thanks

 

Rod and Staff

Getting back from out of town and catching up on life today. And there are days – even when I have every reason in the world (and more!) to be incredibly thankful – that I just don’t feel all drop-to-my-knees grateful. I’ve been given so much and want for nothing, and I still wrestle for contentment and peace.

 

I am angry with myself for being so ungrateful for all His good gifts and for always wanting more . . . more.

 

The wind is howling around our house walls and the storm’s clouds have moved in and I wonder if tomorrow’s March will come in like a lion or a lamb. I wonder what our future holds and just want to know that the Shepherd – the One who is both the Lion and the Lamb – is still leading us. Still guiding us.

 

At breakfast, Firefly plays with a bread bag’s twisty tie and shows me how she’s formed a candy cane. I say that I think it also looks like a Shepherd’s hook and she smiles and turns her toast into a Shepherd walking along our wooden table with his red hook at his side. I inwardly beg Him to use His hook and keep us, we, His sheep that so desperately need His leading, ever close to Him.

 

He stays ever close and where He leads, I want to follow. I will look for Him along the way . . . His rod and His staff, they comfort me….

 

#282 little sister’s birthdays

#283 spontaneous family togetherness

#284 His leading to make just a little extra . . . and then being able to share

#285 little girl curiosity

#286 a weekend getaway

#287 a giving friend who loves my girls

#288 sleeping in!

#289 time together

#290 a small sunburn from late February sunshine

#291 the chance to ask for the power to forgive

#292 that we had the money to pay the parking fine

#293 Firefly’s excitement over a dress-up birthday party!

#294 the chance to seek Him in the hard-pressed limbo

#295 the discipline and accountability of counting, even when not feeling all giddy with thankfulness

#296 library storytime

#297 missing two little girls

#298 that peace lilies are so very forgiving

#299 the excitement of getting away and the comfort of coming home

#300 pink tulip tree blooms

#301 the first of yellow daffodils

Rejoicing Always

It’s been a crazy week and I’ve been busy and not given Him much of my heart’s energy. But He is so faithful. And sometimes, I wonder if instead of worrying about how little time I’ve had for Him, if He’d rather I just rejoiced in the gifts and life He’s given me. We’ve been singing a lot of “Rejoice in the Lord Always” around here lately. My heart buoys and the girls clap and we search for Him and thank Him for our cups overflowing.

 

Continuing to count the ways . . . His gifts . . . His presence in our little, everyday lives….

 

#226 “let’s just veg” nights, cuddled on the couch

#227 holding a newborn baby . . . that wonderful, new-life smell

#228 that he would gobble up, even my over-baked lasagna.

#229 two unexpected mornings at home . . . the opportunity to exemplify flexibility

#230 little boy falling sound asleep in my arms

#231 the waiting for (I hope) a someday-coming little boy of my own

#232 the way her voice lilts when she says “Mama”

#233 the way his aftershave lingers on our skin, long after he’s kissed us each good-bye

#234 sunlight, shining through peace lily leaves

#235 little fingerprints on glass

#236 clean floors

#237 that he came with me

#238 family around the table

#239 a working vacuum cleaner

#240 watching her arabesque

#241 her little dancer’s excitement

#242 a warm, cinnamon dolce latte

#243 an ever-present second father

#244 hugging Dad

#245 Dove’s loving exuberance for others

#246 the way they both touch the ceiling by the strength of their father’s arms

#247 a full house

#248 a teenage boy and his sweet heart’s soft spot . . . the real him shining through

#249 snake-in-my-bed pranks (yes, especially this)

#250 seeking direction and that we get to do it together

#251 3 1/2 years . . . nearly every Sunday night, all gathered

#252 goodbye tears

#253 that He is in the winds of change

#254 He is more than worthy of my trust

#255 resting in His goodness

 

 

Joining others in offering gift-thanks

 

 

 

Simple Monday Thanks

This Monday finds me simply counting everyday, grace-washed gifts:

 

#185 a quiet house and a book-reading, simply soaking, long-awaited bubble bath

#186 convicting, but grace-filled Sunday sermons

#187 that he came back – just to snuggle close under morning covers

#188 “I just love you’s”

#189 friends gathered, burdens shared, prayers lifted

#190 a church lunch

#191 stories told, a beautiful cancer-free life

#192 new babies

#193 grace even in the grumps

#194 Better Off Ted

#195 relational seeds planted, growth-hope

#196 that hard-life experience paves the way for outreaching comfort

#197 silly, little girl faces

#198 anticipating Girl Scout cookies

#199 that He listens to the soul-ugly cries

#200 that He desires honesty – even He that already knows

#201 initiation

#202 60 degree weather

#203 heart-glimpses and greater understanding

#204 cheerios in the sofa cushions

#205 candle flickers

#206 that He loves – even me

Joining the gift-thankers