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Showing posts from 2017

Place

A couple of weeks ago we were in that slice of summer that tucks you away from reality and covers you with sunshine and solace from the outside world.
We were on vacation.
The place : Hilton Head, South Carolina. Where the buildings are all neutral and hidden in plazas and strip malls. Bicycle wheels spinning up and down streets as this is a popular mode of transportation.
We spent the last of July soaking up the searing sun poolside or beachside and then couch-side recovering from all of the rich food we consumed. My mom spent most of her vacation cooking. She couldn't be persuaded to take it easy and made feasts for us every night.
We watched little boy enjoy the pool despite his pink floaties courtesy of his sissies.
We watched him revel in the tide chasing his baby feet. Laughing freely as his dad held him fast against his chest as the waves knocked into them.
He kept pointing at the ocean and telling us, "The Big Waa" (his word for water).
We judged countless dives …

Try

Last week I read an eye opening article.  The article was on literacy and children.  A study points to something other than sight words and alphabet recognition to literacy success.
Kate-Koch Sundquist writes, "The best indicator of future success as a reader is actually a child’s ability to use invented spelling as he writes."
My eyes widened.  I was expecting to read that parents reading to their children daily was the key.  Or perhaps an exposure to wide variety of books. I wasn't expecting to be reading about inventive spelling.
My mind instantly pictured Moriah, my four year old.
Golden head bent over she focuses long on a drawing and usually includes letters that seem out of order to summarize what she has drawn.
She comes to me with her story.  She usually asks me to read what she has written.  I smile and think of how I'll correctly read her collection of letters.  They are usually real letters, but they are definitely out of order. Sometimes I can decipher…

Collect

I read this word and think instantly about four pairs of kid feet coated with sand running across the bare beach trying to collect sea shells.
That will be much of our week.  It's vacation time.
That time always brings out the collector in my kids. Porous pieces of sea life, broken pieces of driftwood, shells scalloped and colored in a myriad of ways.
Then the kids will go to some tacky beach shop and try to spend their savings on souvenirs to add to their already overflowing dresser.
Kids collect things.  I remember doing it and I watch this treasure hunt play out in the eyes of my kids today.
I looked at my girls' this week and finally asked for someone to clean up the mess that was peeking out from every corner.
"Wait!" third girl said, "These are my collections!" The priceless nature of these 'organized' toys brought to weight in a pair of serious four year old eyes.
Moriah is a collector.
A twilight hunter of fireflies. Her small fingers m…

Comfort

The baby of our house is usually steady on his feet.  He's careful, cautious.
Sometimes though he runs too fast and trips over uneven places in the sidewalk.
Little knees scraping the road.
Little Mac immediately sits down, tears pooling in hazel eyes.
He holds the injury up, pointing with tiny fingers.
He is waiting, sitting in the sidewalk for someone to recognize his hurt suffered and kiss the place back to okay.
We kneel down and acknowledge his hurt with a quick kiss and he immediately springs up as if nothing happened.
Everything is better, though the scraped skin is still there.

Mac knows who will comfort him.
His parents and his middle sister, Madelyn.
She always will.
He brings his hurts to her and then sits down infront of her waiting for her to kiss them away.
She's always to be counted on.
She bends her skinny knees down to the ground and lowers to kiss his knees, her glasses sliding down her tiny nose.
And magically, Mac is better. Completely.
We have o…

Thrown Together

Last Tuesday it didn't really feel like the fourth of July.
Our oldest and chief bearer of enthusiasm was at camp and the day was pretty quiet.
She would have been the cheerleader championing a party or maybe a day at the pool and then counting down the minutes until we went to a fireworks show.
As the day waxed on our plans were cancelled for an afternoon cookout. 
That was actually fine with me.
I felt kinda tired and perfectly fine with not doing much of anything.
Then four o'clock rolled around and my parents called.
A few conversations and minutes later a dinner was thrown together.
"You have chicken?"
"Yes, and you have buns?"
"Please bring pickles. Oh...and maybe a bottle of oil."
"Stop and get some tea and some steak fries."
Conversations went on between my parents, my husband, my sister and I.
We all put our heads and supplies together and made a super simple supper.
Within an hour we were all bumping into each other in my s…

Play

This weeks word prompt was play. Fitting for my week.

"Bye Meredith." She responded by pushing me away.
She sat with a group of girls at the back of the bus.
Eagerly awaiting their arrival at summer camp.
I had to smile and laugh at her new phase of independence.
It was her first week away from us.
Her first week spending the night with someone other than her grandparents.
"How is she?" I asked the camp leader.
"She's doing great." was the quick reply.
And she did do great. 
A couple days passed and we visited the camp.
Summer camp is a mix of sweat, messy cabins, non stop activities, loud voices, and ongoing laughter, worship services, climbing hills, the din of the cafeteria, and most of all day and into the night play.
After two counselors had to leave I arrived back to help out.
Kids everywhere were playing.  Hard.
Small arms cradling bows and aiming arrows in archery class.
Splashing in the pool with balls during water games.
Little kids s…

Blessing

This weeks word prompt was the word blessing.  Normally that makes me think about counting blessings and growing gratitude. A kitchen splattered spiral notebook that holds my blessings in barely legible scrawl.  For my eyes only.  Daily reminders to ponder God's goodness.
Or blessing leads me down a table of pies, stuffing, and gravy bowls and families circled up table side mentioning a few blessings of the year.
But today I read this verse containing the word blessing and my mind ran down a different trail...


"Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult.  On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing." 1 Peter 3:9
The verses that follow this admonition discuss a promise of blessing for those who don't engage in evil for evil behavior.
"For, 'Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.  They must turn from evil and do good;…

Unexpected Friends

I sat quietly reading the book of James during church one morning.
It's my husband's favorite book of the Bible.
I hadn't read this book lately, but the chapters we had memorized a few year ago merged with the scripture I was reading and I decided to camp out in James for the rest of the month.
Four years ago we had memorized the first two chapters of James. These scriptures all seem to flow seamlessly together and lend themselves to fairly easy memorization.
The student-perfectionistic side of me set a goal to memorize the rest of the book, but a quiet voice told me just to read the book and enjoy it.
So this month I read the chapters on repeat.
Reading the same chapters over and over feels like being washed out.  Like drinking the same glasses of cold water every day. The themes, the verses start coming out in your life, mind, and your imagination even when you aren't trying to think about them.
Several times this month I've been tempted with anger.  I haven&#…

Steady

As the horizon began to break open with fresh morning light, my husband, then boyfriend would roll into my driveway.
I'd climb in the old jeep filled with fishing poles and tackle boxes. Forty five minutes later we would arrive at a secluded forest area on the side of some country road, one steep river bank up from the river.
After making our way down a sharply steep bank of underbrush we would find ourselves at river's edge.
The air would be muggy and damp. Water swirling over thousands of smooth earth colored river stones.
River fishing involves moving down the river.  According to my husband you can't stay in the same place.  You must keep moving. 
Usually at some point in the early morning he would decide we had to cross the river.
I never enjoyed crossing the river.
One humid July morning he walked into the deep water and methodically made his way across step by step.
The river was high due to rain and I didn't feel great about crossing.
He had made it look…

Noticing

Sometimes I wonder if God gets joy in our noticing. When we notice His work in quiet and small ways.
I think to myself that He must like that we noticed.
That the works of His hands, the creative expressions of His mind, His heart, the labors of His passion exist endlessly in our every day lives.  What is begging to be noticed is often right under our own noses.      
In Only Love Today, Rachel Macy Stafford writes these words about 'Noticers',
"Noticers are the thriving blossoms in a concrete world, reminding us to stop and feel our beating hearts every chance we can."
These words captured what I've thought about people who notice or as Stafford calls them, 'noticers'. 
Noticing.  It really is an art.  To take time to notice.  A way of living life with eyes open to what is around us and not merely on ourselves.
Isn't it the people that notice us that become the ones who win our hearts?
Isn't that part of loving? Taking notes on those we love? …

Worth

Soup spoons clink against bowls.  Sandwich crusts and grapes litter plates. It's yesterday's lunch and we end up discussing this word, worth.
The Bible story book reading for the day is about Jacob and how he acquired Esau's birthright.
My oldest girl keeps asking me if she would be the one who would get a birthright.
We read about Jacob recognizing the value of His brother's birth right and doing something to attain it for Himself.
Genesis 25 describes the exchange of a invaluable birthright for a simple bowl of soup.
Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob,“Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”“Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and …

Expect

Expect

I usually try to brace myself for the bad.  It will be easier that way.  My mind expects that things will go awry.  Wrenches will be thrown.  The law of entropy evident. Things won't turn out the way I hoped they would. 
If I am ready and deal ahead of time with the disappointment my hope won't be crushed.  It will somehow be handled.
It's a form of protection. A way to steel oneself against hope deferred. 
Don't expect something and I will not be disappointed by the absence of it.
Recently I had my usual lack of great expectations challenged.
There was a possibility of opportunity.
Months earlier I had made some suggestions about ways to improve a program. I wasn't planning to be part of the solution, but I felt like somethings should change.
A few months later I'm asked to be part of the solution.  I agree, surprised by the invitation.
I wasn't expecting the invitation.
Months pass and I'm unsure of where this will go.
What's next?
I …

Future

http://fiveminutefriday.com/

I see the word future and I think of the words Madelyn and I snuggled under yesterday morning.  She was up early and we shared a few scriptures together before the house turned noisy. The different words in the scripture touching me in different ways.
Words like consumed, wait, hope, and portion. 
Lamentations 3:22-24
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I will hope in Him." (NRSVCE)

I like reading the way these words are expressed in a few translations.
The Living Bible reads, "his compassion never end. It is only the Lord's mercies that have kept us from complete destruction. Great is His faithfulness; his loving-kindness begins afresh each day.  My soul claims the Lord as my inheritance; therefore I will hope in Him."
And finally the NIV says,
" Because of th…

Signs

Earlier in Spring our family was visited by Influenza B.
I don't believe we have ever had the real 'flu'.
I know I haven't had it.
After the worst of it had swept through the family I was left with fatigue that wouldn't lift and a cough that I couldn't shake. 
One of those Thursdays after a coughing fit  my body was aching tired.  I found myself sitting in a pool of warm April afternoon sunshine.  My kids voices floating through the screen door, bicycle wheels spinning across sidewalk cracks. 
The baby was dumping toys in front of me.  And I just leaned back.
I felt so old. Every part of me felt worn.
Like my body and soul were way older than their real age. 
Whenever I find my body really tired, I find that my soul isn't far off.  It seems like everything magnifies under the lens of exhaustion.
My dark thoughts only grow darker under the dim light of fatigue.
I remember I consciously whispered to God.
I asked for some encouragement, some sign of …

Glimpses and Gaps

Sometime in April I spied a book that I wanted to read a couple of years ago.
I quickly snatched the book up and turned it over noticing that the price was greatly reduced. I decided I couldn't pass it up. 
After only a couple chapters I was deeply enveloped in the story.  Soaking in the poetry of the writing style and connecting with the stories told.
The book is Atlas Girl by Emily T. Wierenga.
The book covers topics such as living in a pastor's family, missions, anorexia, recovery, relapse, cancer, care-giving,  travel and different cultures, doubt, marriage, motherhood, brokenness, and forgiveness.
There is one excerpt that reminded me of something my kids recently said.
Madelyn had quietly observed , "Mom, why do most parents not play a lot with their kids?"
I eyed her in the back of the car. My stomach dropped slightly.  I knew I was part of that 'most parents'.
"Well, I suppose it's because most parents are busy working and then working …

Spring Break

A few weeks ago as April bloomed into hot pink dogwood petals and splashes of waxy buttercups we had spring break.
The girls and I had been counting down the days until one week of no school.
No getting up at six o'clock.  No lunches to pack and schedules to follow.
We spent days wandering along trails in parks, picking flowers.
Legs turning golden in the sunshine.
Who could swing the highest? And the fastest?
Little feet dipped under creek water and one toddler boy ran into the creek and did one flop forward into the water. The splash of cold surprised him.  That was enough for him. He shoeless and wearing his diaper around the park shivering in the sun.
We circled around the table of our favorite ice cream parlor. Cotton candy ice cream sticking in hair.
We weaved through stores. Everyone begging for an item to take home with them.
We watched movies late into the night and spent long evenings outside.

Friday of the week dawned busy.
Easter weekend was looming before us w…