Monday, May 31, 2010

Sweetly Blessed

It begins with her new voice every morning, "Hi."  I freshly diaper a sweet bottom and carry her to the bottom of the stairs.  She wiggles down, and it's the thump, thump of her run-walk that sings in my ears. 

"Hi," says the small voice to her big brothers.  They smile-hi back. 

In the kitchen, I prepare her breakfast.  Cheerios and yogurt in her princess bowl.  Drink is poured.  Tray prepared.  I walk to the family room to bring her to morning meal.  She's on the couch, curled close to a hero, munching from his bowl of cereal while Martha Speaks.

I know I am blessed.  My cup simply overflows with it.

And that's when I realize it's time to take the plunge and count One Thousand:

holy experience

My beginning #1-32:

"Hi" in that new voice

Thump, Thump of her run-walk

Brothers who adore

Sweet cheerio breath

Chubby hands picking strawberries from our very own patch

Strawberry smiles

Prayers for the hurting

Tiny toads

A picnic site

A dad who created it

Rope swings

Cool creeks

Boy glee


New family

Sunshine after many clouds

A book held high as she runs to me to read

Kids in pajamas

God's persistent love

Annual day trip with my best friend

A big brother's excitement over her accomplishments

The Thinker's thoughtfulness

A cousin's infatuation with Baby Girl

An ink pen in my purse to jot down more thoughts on-the-go

An interesting (even to me!) conversation about soccer with The Thinker

Realizing he's a neat kid

A drop-in visit by my sis

The Belly Button Book

Singing in the car with all three of my sugars

Being in the right place at the right time to help a stranger


A fun evening with the in-laws


The Jesus Manifesto

I struggled with this book.  It was like a relationship:  the beginning hooked me and I was excited about it, then the middle frustrated me and I wanted to dump it.  But I held onto the end, which was probably the best part of all (I especially found meaningful the chapter "A House of Figs). 

In Jesus Manifesto, Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola have one goal:  to "restore the supremacy and sovereignty of Christ."  They ask the question Jesus asked of his disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" and attempt to give us a broader view of Christ.  They believe that the Church has forsaken the love of Christ for programs and ideologies.  They take issue with churches who have focused on leadership and justice and morality instead of Christ and have become occupied with anything other than Christ first.  They claim that the church has attempted to take away the mystery of Christ and has tried to reduce Him to something less than what He is.

I agree with them that we should discern whether or not a church is focused on Christ or on political correctness.  However, I feel that their judgements were sweeping, and at times that they were splitting hairs.  For instance they take issue with the phrase "imitators of Christ" since it is impossible for us to actually live the sinless life of Christ without His indwelling spirit and remind us that we ARE Christ because we are part of His body.  I understand the distinction, but I felt that they were trying to say something new . . . . that isn't new.    And occasionally I disagreed with how they stretched the use of a verse to make a point.

However, all in all, I've decided I like the book.  The more I think about some of their points, the more I realize how right they are.  We do need to point to Christ as the center and the circumference of all life.  As Christ-followers we should be occupied with Christ and everything we do should flow from that obsession with Him, and unfortunately, many churches and Christians are missing that Christ-living and choosing meaningless pursuits of morality alone or service alone or programs alone.  It is an easy trap to fall into.

"There is one reason why a Christian would not be absolutely occupied and consumed with Christ.  That person's eyes have not been opened to see his greatness," was one thought I've pondered most.  I do believe that much of this book challenged me to be occupied with Christ -- to search for Him in all of life, to look for His unlimited majesty and see His greatness, and to allow Him to work through me.  For that reason, it is worth reading. 

*I receieved a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for an honest review through BookSneeze.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Honoring Sacrifice

Christ sacrificed all to save us.  He battled death and won, and through His victory, He provides freedom.

I honor Him today by honoring others who have battled for freedom and lost their lives or a part of themselves in the process.  For those who have sacrificed time, comfort, safety, family, friends, peace of mind and countless other things for my freedom -- Thank you.

image by andrewconn

Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar drawing nigh,
Falls the night.

Day is done, gone the sun
From the lakes, from the hills, from the skies
All is well, safely rest;
God is nigh.

Then goodnight, peaceful night;
Till the light of the dawn shineth bright.
God is near, do not fear,
Friend, goodnight    


Friday, May 28, 2010

Share Some Happy (Friendly Friday)

God continues to open my eyes to how blessed I am, and He's encouraging me to share it, live it, express it. 

Last weekend was full of blessing.  Saturday, The Princess and I attended the shower of my brother's bride-to-be.  The Princess will be the flower girl in their wedding. . . we hope.  As I've said before, at least she'll dress the part.  And I have the honor and delight of being a bridesmaid (I get to play dress-up!).  The happy day is in June, and we're all looking forward to it.

(Isn't she lovely?)

The Bride's birthday, along with several other family members, including The Stinker's, is in May (today, in fact).  So my parents invited her family to join our crazy crew for a birthday bash down at the picnic site my dad has been creating.  He's picked a beautiful spot on the farm where the creek runs through, and there is the perfect combination of open space and shade. 

My dad has installed rope swings (one for getting wet and one for staying dry), a volleyball net, a basketball goal, a two-seater swing and a baby swing.  He's built a screened shelter house for stashing food and a fire pit for roasting it. It's party-perfect.

There was a moment as my favorite middle nephew was playing in the creek with Baby Girl (they are crazy about each other) that my heart was overwhelmed with blessing, and I just had to lift a hand in quiet praise. 

It was a moment, a day, a weekend of complete happiness.  And I owe that happiness and those gifts to the Giver of all good things, the Father of heavenly lights.

And you?  What has made you happy this week? 
Please share some happy.  It's Friendly Friday, after all, and I really want to know.

*Today I'm joining Amanda for Friday Focus. She's a sweet, creative friend in Australia who invited me to join a new group in which to share how God has worked in our lives that week. Go visit!*


Thursday, May 27, 2010

He Speaks a Foreign Language

When I met my husband, he was attending college at some engineering school called Rose-Hulman.  I'd never heard of it, but apparently it's often been ranked as the number one engineering school in the country.  Yes, he's smart (and my little brother followed in his footsteps and attended dork school there too).  I love them both.

When people ask me what my husband does, I usually just give his title.  And when they ask me for details, I scramble and try in vain to throw out some meaningful-sounding terms like design and three phase and things like that.  It's not like we don't communicate or anything. It's just that when we talk about his work, we don't usually talk about those kinds of things.  Because he likes me.  I really don't know what he does over there, but I know the funny stories from each day.

My guy is doing some cool things and has been asked to speak at conferences and write a few articles to share them.  Recently, he was telling me about some article he was asked to co-author.  He sent it to me via email and asked if I'd like to read it.  Our bedtime conversation went something like this:

Me:  How long is it?

Him:  About a page and a half.  Not long.

Me:  Will I be able to understand it?  (He knows how technologically-challenged I am.)

Him:  I think it will only have a couple of terms you might not understand.  (Then he then went on to say something about system integration and encoding and messaging and control four -- or was it control C?  I don't know.  You get the picture.)

Me:  I love it when you speak a foreign language.

Him:  Really?  It gets to ya, huh?

Me:  Yea.  It's that southern-boy accent with the geek-speak language.  It's heart melting.


How about you?  Anyone in your life speaking Greek (or geek) to you?


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Step Director (Word-Filled Wednesdy)

I know, O LORD, that a man's life is not his own;
it is not for man to direct his steps.
Jeremiah 10:23

I have often been guilty of planning my life without consulting God.  It's a dangerous (and common) habit that I don't recommend.  But what has been laid on my heart recently is that my children's lives are not for me to plan either.  God already has a purpose mapped out for them.  While my husband and I have been entrusted to guide them, ultimately we should be pointing them to ask the LORD what His plans are for them.  Yes, this requires faith and a humble heart to listen, but it also takes a bit of the fear out.  We are accountable for how we guide them, but we don't carry the ultimate responsibility in their lives' direction.

We are currently at a crossroads in our parenting, and I'm thankful for God's faithful reminder that He is my children's Father too.  He will be guiding their steps even when I am unable to be there.  They are His to direct.

And I will pray that they follow.

*For more Word-Filled inspiration, visit Susan at Forever His.*


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ponder, Protect, Provide

I have been thinking for several weeks now about some words that my pastor gifted to me one Sunday.  Words that have carried weight and meaning in my heart.  Words that I've rolled around in my mind often since that message.


Delivered on Mother's Day, it was in the context of mothering that these words were discussed, and at a time I needed to hear them.  I have felt for awhile now that God has been speaking to me about my time with my children.  It is so brief . . .  just like these words dropped into my heart.

Ponder.  I am good at this.  I am a thinker by nature, and I have tried to be intentional about raising my children thoughtfully.  I am often considering the choices we make as a family, from activities, schooling, friends, and so on, to evaluate the benefit or necessity of our actions and their impact.  But perhaps, I've been pondering too much lately and not acting on what I know.

Protect.  I believe in protecting my children, which is why I am struggling with the next phase in our lives . . . the one that would begin with The Thinker making a first step on a yellow bus.  I believe that children are children, and not adults.  I believe that they are capable of making good decisions but are given parents to guide them in their experience and wisdom.  I have worked to protect their minds and hearts in Christ Jesus.

Provide.  This is where my heart feels the sting of conviction.  My children are well-provided for.  God has blessed my husband with a good job that allows my kids to have all they need and then some.  They can participate in activities and sports and field trips.  But my pastor was speaking of a different provision, and this is what I've been considering all these weeks.  For the provision he mentioned has eternal significance in my life and theirs.

It is the providing of self.  The costly, sacrificial giving of time and attention. 

I have home schooled my children for several years, and I have enjoyed that time learning and growing with my kids.  It has been a useful tool in encouraging me to spend time growing their minds and souls . . . and I am saddened to recognize that sometimes I need that accountability and motivation of a schedule and planner to be with my children.  I am saddened to admit that reading Curious George one more time or playing another game of Uno or listening to another replay of the sport of the season does not naturally thrill me each day.  I recognize that I can easily find myself listening or playing or reading with half a heart . . . or putting them off completely for that day.

Yet God has spoken to me about this need to give more of myself in many ways.  It began with that message from my pastor and has continued through His Word, through other's online that I read and through quiet but persistent conviction.  And I'm glad.  Glad that God cares enough to first whisper quietly, then kneel down and look into my eyes, then grab me by the shoulders and say, "Provide.  I gave of Myself.  Go and do likewise."

So that's what I'll be doing today and more often.  Providing for those who deserve more than just a little piece of this convicted heart.


Friday, May 21, 2010

A Time to Pray

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3:1). 

Earlier today seemed a time to dance for me.  There are those days that we are blessed to be able to smile and laugh.  There is a time for that.  But there is also a time to weep and a time to mourn, and often one time quickly follows another.

There is also a time to be born and a time to die.  And sometimes that time to die comes too soon, in our eyes, after the time to be born.  Much too soon.  In the past week, two of my friends have each lost their newborn daughters.  My heart hurts for them.  Even while I was dreaming of dancing, my thoughts were not far from them.  As a parent, I can only imagine their loss.  And I will be very honest, when my thoughts do wander into that territory of wondering how to survive that pain, I quickly lead them in another direction.  Even the imagined loss is painful.

So please, I ask you to take this time to pray for Andy and Jenn and for Matt and Cindy and for each of their families.  There is always a time for prayer. 

And if you would like for me to pray for you, please share your request.  It will be my honor to carry your burden.


Dance With Me (Friendly Friday)

Dancing with the Stars is tough on our marriage.  My husband and I sit in the family room together as we watch couples float and fly, twirl and tango across the dance floor.  He endures while I dream

I dream, and I wait.  I keep hoping for him to stand and sing, "Come on darling, put a pretty dress on.  We're gonna go out tonight.  And dance, dance, dance . . "  But my two-left-feet guy doesn't sing very well either, so the dream lives on. 

He assures me if we lived closer to a dance studio, we'd give it a whirl.  Mmmhmmm.  Lucky for him, we live in the middle of a hundred acres of nothing but good farm land in the middle of nowhere.  I love him still.

So, since my dream remains a dream, and I might as well dream dancing-big, thanks to Maggie I'm pondering which instructor I hope to have when Dancing with the Stars finally has a Common People Edition.  Feel free to petition for that.  For now, let's dream together.

First of all, there's the incredibly talented Maksim.  Wow.  He's extremely creative and has a fabulous accent.  Not to mention, he's easy on the eyes.  But unfortunately, I'm pretty sure he knows it, which is annoying.  Plus, I find him a bit scary and too intense.

Then there's Tony, with an award-winning smile.  He's sweet and patient, which would be extremely valuable for someone like me with zero dancing experience. A good pick.

And you can't forget Louis, a great choreographer with a terrific attitude.  He seems soulful . . . I think he would understand me.  Maybe.

All of these guys are obviously great at what they do.  I would gladly accept any of them as an instructor (do you hear me, abc?).  But . . .

My absolute favorite is Derek. Not only is his choreography amazing, but he is hilarious, goofy (most like my husband!) and high-energy (and the only of these four who was made in America, by the way).  And while he would probably be exhausting, I think he would definitely be the most fun -- even if he isn't the most handsome.  He manages to pull off a crazy-fun jive and quickstep with ease and then turn around and dance an elegant waltz and look masculine and romantic all at once.

So just in case abc gets smart and allows people like you and me to be stars for a few minutes, we should be prepared.  Get out your dancin' shoes and take your pick.

It's Friendly Friday.  My chance to get to know what you're thinking!

Who would you want to be your instructor and why? 
(You don't have to limit it to my top four picks.)

Come on . . . I really want to know!

(And just so you know, my husband said he'd pick Edyta to be his dance instructor.  Hmph!  Or Julianne, Derek's sister.  I think he better stick with Julianne if he knows what's good for him!)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sweet Celebration

There before me was a great multitude that no one could count,
 from every nation, tribe, people and language,
standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. . .
 And they cried out in a loud voice:
Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb
Revelation 7:9-10

I'm looking forward to the day when our differences will be celebrated . . . .when everyone will enjoy the creativity with which God has created us.  We will look at the beautiful colors and shapes of the people around us and hear the variety of languages and praise, and we will enjoy Him together with no fighting, no hate, no suspicion.  It will be a life full of flavor and joy. 

It will be "a longing fulfilled . . . sweet to the soul."  Proverbs 13:19

Fill up with His sweet Word, and begin the celebration.

*For more Word-Filled inspiration, visit The 160 Acre Woods.*


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Weeds and Vegetables

I stop mid-row in the garden to check on Baby Girl.  I see that she is standing in the row of corn with her foot firmly planted on top of one of the tender plants.  She doesn't realize that she's trampling all over our future food.  I pick her up and move her gently to the freshly tilled dirt between the rows and resume my weeding.

I glance up to check on The Stinker's row of corn and realize he's left several weeds in between each good plant.  I kneel down to show him the difference between the grass that he should pluck and the small grass of the corn.  He examines them and confirms that he now knows which to pull and which to leave.

And as I walk back to my own row, it occurs to me that this is why children need parents.  They don't know the weeds from the vegetables.  They don't always recognize what will harm them from what will benefit them.  Without our guidance, they might step all over a good relationship and walk all over a heart because they don't realize what they are doing.  Without our guidance, they might leave a weed that would be better removed from their life -- a movie, a show, a book, a person, a habit.

There are some that say this approach is restrictive.  They think we should allow children to experience everything without limits because they'll just want to do what is forbidden or will be exposed to it at some point anyway.  I disagree.  I know I'm just tending to the ones God entrusted to me.  I'm helping them to recognize that there is a Gardener of their hearts that truly cares about what kinds of seeds they plant and grow in their souls.  And I want the harvest to be good. 

"And we pray . . . . that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God."  (Colossians 1:9-11)

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener." (John 15:1)


Monday, May 17, 2010

Vote for My Most Beautiful Baby!

I want you to know that she's not just another pretty face.  Oh no, this beautiful baby has her own mind, and she sets out to prove it fairly often.  For example, the other night we were playing outside at a youth retreat camp with a large playground.  The evening was beautiful, but it was getting chilly.  So naturally, I thought it would be reasonable for The Princess to put a jacket on.   

She disagreed. 

And she did it loudly and without shame in front of about fifty people. 

Her lambie and thumb eventually calmed her down -- eventually.  As in after tugging and pulling on her jacket while turning purple and laying on the ground and twisting every which way.  But eventually, she decided enough was enough.  Until it was time to take the jacket off, which for some bizarre reason she did not want to do.  And she seriously considered a repeat performance.  Thank goodness the pizza was ready, and she takes her food even more seriously than, well . . .  just about anything else.

So this hard-playin', tantrum-throwin' Princess isn't just another pretty face.  But her face definitely is pretty.  And I just know you want to vote for her in Parenting BY Dummies' Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful Photo Contest for Unbelievably Cute Kids.  Just click on the link above, find her oh-so-pretty face, check her little box and hit the vote button.  You can do it as often as you like.  The contest ends Friday, May 21st.  Thank you, thank you for your help!!

parenting BY dummies


Friday, May 14, 2010

Make Me Laugh (Friendly Friday)

The Stinker will be eight tomorrow.  

He has given us eight years of side-splitting, rambunctious, LOUD boyness.  He is laughter and sweetness; forgetfulness and charm.  He is the one who often asks me at 2:00 in the afternoon IF we've had lunch (and yes, we always have.  At 11:00.  Everyday). 

He is the one to give the best bear hugs after his asked-for bedtime prayers.  He is quick to find the funny in any situation but often the last to laugh at the subtle humor in the book we're reading (usually two paragraphs behind).  And he is the one who cannot pass up a joke book, a funny poem or the old Tom and Jerry cartoons.  He is my middle child, squeezed but thriving.

So in honor of his birthday, I can't resist sharing this with you:

Knock, Knock.
Who's there?
Tock Who?
Tock to me.  I'm lonely.

It's Friendly Friday.  I ask; you answer:
What is your favorite knock-knock joke that I can share with The Stinker for his birthday? 

Go ahead.  Tock to me.  It'll be a great gift!


The Heart Mender Winner

Get ready to curl up with a good book, Lucy.  You're the randomly chosen winner of The Heart Mender.

Lucy's answer to "What is your favorite type of book to read?" 
"My favorite books to read are historical fiction! And of course a little romance never hurt anyone..."

Historical fiction is my favorite kind of book too.  Please email me your information so I can send your book to you.

Thanks to all who entered!  I enjoyed reading your answers. 


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Is My Face Red?

I think I'm blushing a little.  You see, sometimes I actually forget that what I write, (some) people read.   Strange, isn't it?  I mean, I am posting this in a very public place.  It's just that for so long I've been writing for me.  Privately.  Occasionally, I would share something with a women's small group or Bible study or Sunday School class, but otherwise my thoughts were kept hidden.  I liked it that way.  It felt safe. 

I've been blogging for a few months now . . . . sharing openly my thoughts.  But apparently in my mind, I'm sometimes pretending that they are still private.  So now you understand why I was a little surprised and feeling a little shy when Lucy from lucille in the sky gave me this award.  (Wasn't that sweet of her?)

But it reminded me that someone is reading my heart -- in all it's silliness, goofiness, seriousness, messiness  . . . It's out there for all to see.  I'm glad she liked it.  And if you do too, I'm honored. 

Now, according to this award, I am to tell you seven random things about myself.  Hmmm

1.  I have a lead foot. 

2.  Sometimes my husband's driving scares me.  But I'd still rather sit in the passenger seat so I can study everything as we pass by -- tree houses, flowers, barns -- and occasionally the ditch I think he's getting too close to.  I let him know about it, so I can get back to enjoying the passing scenery.

3.  I'd love to have an old pickup truck from the 1950s.  I can just picture my hubby and me in it . . .  and my kids are mysteriously absent. 

4.  Thanks to my parents' kindness, we built a house a few years ago on the original homestead of the family farm I grew up on.  I'm lovin' it.

5.  Yes, I'm a farmer's daughter (and proud of it!).  I've driven tractors when my dad was desperate for help.  I've helped bale straw.  I've bottle-fed lambs.  And I've called pigs to their dinner -- that last talent won my husband over.

6.  I still have my poodle skirt that my grandmother made for me in eighth grade for Halloween.  I can kinda-sorta still wear it if I'm creative and stand really straight and suck in hard and don't wear a shirt that tucks in  . . . and don't zip it up all the way.  But that counts, right?

7.  And finally, I want to be a dolphin trainer when I grow up -- or be on Dancing with the Stars.  But first I have to figure out how to be a star. Details.

And for the fun part . . .I'm passing this award on to some lovely ladies at these blogs I've found fairly recently.  You really should check them out! 


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Let It Shine (WORD-filled Wednesday)

"You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. 
Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 

In the same way, let your light shine before men,
that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
                                                                                Matthew 5:13-16

What a strange picture for that verse, you say?  Perhaps for you, but not for me.  For most of my life, I have played the piano.  It is a gift from God that I caught from my mom and was taught to me by a sweet lady from our church.  It has been enjoyment.  It has been therapy.  It has been blessing.

But there have been times I have hidden this light . . . afraid that it didn't shine as brightly or as beautifully as someone else's.  I'd see those lights and find mine pale and insignificant in comparison, rather like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree next to the Douglas fir at The White House.  

But God was gracious to me nevertheless.  He was patient and allowed me to see that my light was needed and the squandering of it was rooted in pride.  He created my light to shine just the right color and intensity.  It wasn't meant to glow for my glory, but for His.  It is not a spotlight to direct others to me, but to Him.  So, I let it shine now.  Not perfectly.  Not without mistakes.  But hopefully, with praise. 
So as you fill up with God's Word today, may you discover or rediscover your God-given gift to be shared . . . and let it shine.

*visit Lori at All You Have to Give for more Word-Filled inspiration.*

And if you're interested in a chance to win a good book, check out my giveaway, The Heart Mender.


Monday, May 10, 2010

The Heart Mender GIVEAWAY!

Stories of WWII fascinate me, as do stories of faith and forgiveness.  The Heart Mender (previously published under the name Island of the Saints) is a fitting blend of both of these themes.  Set in the Gulf Coast, Andy Andrew's book tells of a young woman, Helen, who has lost her husband in WWII and has become embittered.  She lives a lonely existence on a small island, only leaving it for work.  As she is walking on the beach one evening, she discovers a wounded German officer that has washed ashore.  It is a collision of countries and hurt hearts.  She must decide whether to offer life or anger.

The Heart Mender is a blend of historical fact and fiction.  The truth of the story makes it even more compelling.  Not only does it offer beautiful a story of forgiveness and healing, but it also intrigued me with new knowledge of WWII.  I was unaware of the presence of German U-boats in the Gulf of Mexico, and it made me want to discover more about this piece of our history.  I had not considered too often the distinction between a German and a Nazi.  This gave me a little more insight into how the German people could justify their part in the war.  I also appreciated the "Where Are They Now?" section at the end of the book that gives the reader a little more information and resolution.   

This is the first time I have read anything by Andy Andrews.  This book was enjoyable and easy to read -- a sweet mix of history, romance and mystery.  After reading this, I look forward to searching out more of his stories. 

Thomas Nelson is giving me the opportunity to share a free copy of this book with one of you!  If you would like a chance to win this book, leave a comment by Thursday, May 13th about your favorite type of book to read(This giveaway is only open to those living in the U.S. or Canada.)

*I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for an honest review through BookSneeze.*

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Baby's Beautiful Blues

She calls me Ma-ma-ma-meeeeee.  The name reflects that we are inseparable in her eyes.  Our hearts are connected, and she's holding tight with her tiny fist, not sure of where I stop and she begins.

She melts my heart with her smiles and my mouth with her kisses.  She tickles my funny bone and captivates me with her femininity.  And her gorgeous eyes . . . well, they work on everybody.  Her tantrums do not surprise (a thank you to her oldest brother for preparing us for that).  She's my favorite follower, not to be confused with my favorite child.  They all share that title.  And while all three of my kids are The Cutest, finding a picture showcasing it all at the same time is difficult.  She sabotages them.  I have a sneaking suspicion it is because she does not want to share the spotlight.  Ever.  We have to sneak love to the boys in the form of games and books read aloud while she sleeps.  She tolerates no other way.  She has a long road in learning to share.

When it came time to decide what to do for Parenting BY Dummies' "Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful Photo Contest for Unbelievably Cute Kids"  (Whew!), we all decided only The Princess should be entered.  We will let her have the spotlight for this.  The Thinker and The Stinker get it in other ways.

Voting begins May 17th if you would like to honor this beauty of all beauties.  Don't worry, I'll remind you.

parenting BY dummies


Friday, May 7, 2010

What Beauty Have You Encountered? (Friendly Friday)

Women bring beauty into this world . . . beauty that inspires and invites.  True beauty that has nothing to do with society's definition of outward beauty and everything to do with the beauty that God bestows.  In honor of Mother's Day, I want to take time to celebrate that, so I'm testifying to the beauty I've encountered lately.

my sister's voice

contagious joy

Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poetry

tender love

unashamed worship

my daughter's eyes

chubby hands holding dandelions

my best friend loving her boys

a first grader's gap-toothed smile framed by pigtails


snowy white hair

laugh lines

baby belly buttons!

It's Friendly Friday.  I ask; you answer.

What beauty have you encountered lately?

Inspire us. . . and Happy Mother's Day to you.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Redolent With Life (Word-Filled Wednesday)

In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place
 in one perpetual victory parade.
Through us, He brings knowledge of Christ.
Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance.

Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God,
which is recognized by those on the way of salvation
— an aroma redolent with life.
                                                                         2 Corinthians 2:14-16, The Message

Fill up with His Word.  Spread a sweet fragrance.

*For more Word-Filled blessings, visit PennyRaine.*


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

An Early-Late Love Letter

Dear Mom,

I know it's not quite Mother's Day, but I am sure this is still past due. 
Today, I want to say thank you for the countless.

     books read
     cookies bake
     sweaters knitted
     meals made
     skinned knees bandaged
     hearts mended
     seeds planted
     clothes washed
     games played
     behavior corrected
     patience practiced

     words spared
     time sacrificed
     money spent
     surprises sprung
     offenses forgiven
     kisses flown
     hugs given
     seams sown
     sleep lost
     lessons taught
For the countless acts of mother-love to this stubborn-daughter heart . . . thank you.


Your  . . .


Monday, May 3, 2010

Fading Light Reveals Him

Our lights went out the other night.  It happens in farm country this time of year.  A piece of equipment gets caught in something crucial.  A pole snaps.  The house goes quiet. 

After the kids were in bed, I fumbled around for camping lanterns in the garage so I could go inside and finish the projects I had planned to do.  I had the door open to let in more light to help me in my search.  In the whisper of the wind, I felt an invitation. 

I resisted at first, for I had plans of my own.  But the invitation persisted, as did the feeling that I was ignoring the One who beckons me to be still.  So I slipped on a jacket and walked barefoot to a front porch rocker.  As my mind settled, I began to notice sounds:
     A car on the highway distant.
     Birds singing the day to sleep.
     A dog's faraway greeting.
     The wind rustling the leaves.
     Tree frogs in the woods.
               Quiet. . . . 

     My heart's thoughts.

The peace of the stillness led me to really see:
     The clouds' long, slow march to the sea.
     The last pink glow of the sky dimming.
     The stars appearing by name.
     Trees dark against the dusk.
     A spider spinning.

The dim light of fading day revealed what the glaring lights I live by had caused me to miss.

And I realized that God sees and hears
     that star,
     that spider,
     that wind,
     that heart's thoughts.

What is man that you are mindful of him? (Psalm 8:4)

And in being still, I KNOW. 
And I wonder why I've not done this in so long. 

The porch lights flash on.  I get up and shut off their glow
     . . . to rest in His.

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