Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Retreat for the Weak


1 a (1) : an act or process of withdrawing especially from what is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable (2) : the process of receding from a position or state attained

It is time for me to withdraw from this position in front of my computer screen.  It's not that it's a dangerous place so much (although it can be).  It's usually easy and agreeable, but I have heard a signal. 

b (2) : a signal for retreating

I'm being called away for a short time . . . a couple of weeks perhaps, or three.  I'm going to rest, to renew, to enjoy, to live, to learn, to refresh.  My home (without time in front of the screen) and the big outdoors will be 2 : a place of privacy or safety : a refuge.  They will be my retreat.

3 : a period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study, or instruction under a director

I will read my Bible and some great books.  I'll play with my children.  I'll go for walks.  I'll relax at the beach.  I'll hike, I'll swim, I'll craft, I'll nap.  I'll talk to the Director of my steps . . . my Refuge . . . my Strong Fortress. 

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
~Psalm 18:2

I retreat because I am weak.  There is strength in rest.  There is nourishment in starving the now, in starving the self that likes affirmation, in starving immediacy.  There is strength in receding from the position you are in when you are headed to The Rock.

May you have a time to do the same.

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
"In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength."  ~ Isaiah 30:15

Visit Internet Cafe Devotions for more Word-Filled inspiration.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Second Chances

Scoop, lift, unload.  Three shovels in rhythm as new stone makes pretty.  Three pairs of strong arms take turns as another smooths and shifts rock with hands and feet.  It's that season again:  landscaping time.  We work together side-by-side, as families should.  Sometimes laughing, sometimes squabbling.  But enjoying. 

We live in the middle of farm fields.  My parents are just down the road, on the corner.  My mom said if they ever named the place, she would call it Windy Corner.  A truly fitting name.  And since we live on the hill of the same farm, our little section should be christened Windy Hill. 

We built on this land four years ago.  We took down the two old scrub pines in front of the house -- the only two trees on the property where animals were once pastured.  It's a beautiful place, but it's wide open to the weather.  We've planted several trees that are doing their job of growing each year, but they're still fairly small, so one can only expect so much.  We feel every breeze and gale that blows.

Last year, we finally got to the job of landscaping the front.  A new sidewalk was poured the year before, and I was ready to make pretty.  A design was drawn, shrubs and flowers purchased, mulch chosen.  We dug, planted, prepped and poured.  We struggled against a strong breeze to lay plastic weed control and to scoop mulch, but when it was finished, we were pleased with the sight.

Enter the wind and a science lesson on how it changes the landscape over time.  By the end of the year, our mulch was scattered to the far corners of the world, the plastic was shredded and the weeds were having a heyday.  It wasn't pretty. 

Take two.  This summer, as we laid new plastic and scooped sturdy rock on Windy Hill, my husband several times said with a grin, "I wish we'd done this last year."

And I remembered my mom saying often to me, "We learn from our mistakes." 

Yes, we do.  We learn that sometimes we're not as smart as we thought we were.  We learn that "where there's a will, there's a way" doesn't necessarily hold true.  We learn that there are some things stronger than we are.  We learn that practical is sometimes more important than pretty (and can actually be pretty too).  We learn that doing it right the first time saves time. 

And we learn that second chances can still be enjoyable, especially when you're surrounded by people you love. 

What sort of second chances have you experienced lately?


Monday, June 21, 2010

My Father, My Dad

My God is









and more.

How did I learn these things?

By watching my dad.

I'm blessed to read the Word, pray to my Heavenly Father and experience Him in my life to know these things as well.  But it was my dad who taught me first by living well. 

And the longer I live, the more I realize how much like Him, he is.

holy experience

Passing 100 Gifts . . .  #84-110:

a dad who taught me about the Father

cuddling with The Stinker

new words from Baby Girl

"Mine," she says

kickball in the backyard

family parties

homemade pie

my brother's teasing

wedding plans

my husband's arms


reading about Africa

new haircuts

packages in the mail

a new dress

library time

an encouraging email

a praying friend

God's still working on me

my sister's love




time with my nephews

The Thinker's apology

Jesus' disciples, hard-hearted and amazed

an accountability group


Friday, June 18, 2010

Our Favorite Summer Things

"Summer time, and the livin' is easy."  Mmmm, summer time . . . I even love the song.  While I'm admittedly not a fan of extreme heat (and might even be heard complaining about it), there are many things about summer that I really do L-O-V-E. 

Today, I'm going to go out and enjoy a few of these things.  I hope you do too!




pink roses






waterproof mascara

little kids' pjs

fun in the pool


stargazer lilies

cool washcloths

mason jars

the beach


tinted moisturizer


cloud watching

star gazing

fresh food from the garden


county fairs

bare feet

It's Friendly Friday.  I ask; you answer.
What do you L-O-V-E about summer?
Tell me.  I really want to know!  Then get outta here and enjoy it!


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Man with a Maiden

"There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand:
the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a maiden." 
                                                                                                Proverbs 30:18-19

It is the month of weddings, a time to celebrate that special love between a man and a woman.  And I love so much that God considers it a beautiful, sacred gift.  It's something to be enjoyed and treasured . . . a secret time with you and your spouse. 

Amazing, incomprehensible and wonderful.  God is that.  And His gifts to us here point to His creativity, passion and joy.

Because I love being married, and I love God's Word, I want to share a couple of different links today.  I'm a fan of The Dating Divas, a blog I found recently.  They are all about celebrating marriage and continuing to find ways to show love to the one you pledged to love forever.  

Also, e-Mom at Chrysalis has a great thing going on called Marriage Mondays.  She's full of wisdom and is great about sharing.

And if you'd like to read more about God's love for you, visit Internet Cafe Devotions for more Word-Filled Wednesday inspiration.  You'll be glad you did. 


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I Look Up to Her

I have looked up to her my entire life.  At seven years older than I, she was (and still is) big stuff to me.  She earned the nickname Bird Legs for her long skinnies . . . tall legs to follow, and I have tried.

As the older, wiser one, I watched her do things first and wanted to be like her.  Yet, I was scared too.  Fearing being compared to her and falling short, I ran quick sprints while she ran the distance.  She did the high jump, so I jumped long.  She sings (beautifully); I play the piano.

We shared vacations, Christmases, handmade sweaters and dolls, bicycling accidents, homemade ice cream, Fox and Geese, and days at the beach.  We played with make up and hair.  She danced "The Monster Mash" and let me sleep with her favorite doll the night before my first day of kindergarten.  As we grew, I begged to wear her clothes, and she complained that I ruined them.  But she usually gave in.

And now we share more than memories.  We share details, frustrations, funny stories and our children.  We share our fears, our heartaches and our joys.  And clothes too.  No complaints!

She has my heart, my admiration and my fierce love.  And I know I have hers as well.

Happy birthday to my talented, intelligent, beautiful sis.  You're still livin' tall.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Hers, Mine and His

My throat is on fire, and I am exhausted when I hear the cry in the wee hours of the morning.  I struggle from my bed, eyes half-closed to Baby Girl's crib.  I hug and kiss her, lay her back down and tuck her in with, "It's still sleepy time, sweet girl.  Good night."

I close the door behind me as she screams, hoping that it will pass quickly. 

It doesn't. 

I know I need my sleep since I am not well and bringing her to bed does not qualify as good sleep, so I stumble back to her room.  Again, I hug and kiss, lay her down and tuck her in.  But this time I sit.

I sit, and I reach one hand in to stroke her silky hair and soft cheeks.  I pat her arm, and I wait.  I'm so tired, and she's not.  I give up thoughts of a soft bed, grab a blanket from her closet and the "Mary, Mary Quite Contrary" pillow that was mine and is now hers and settle bones on a hard floor.  One hand reaches in to connect to hers.

She is mine, and I am hers.  "Mama's here.  It's okay."

Occasionally, she makes sounds just to hear my quiet, "Sshhh.  I'm still here."

And as hips protest the unforgiving floor, my mind wanders.  Christ took on our discomforts.  He left behind the perfection and splendor of what was His and crossed into our dark, lonely world.  He made Himself nothing to become like us.  His hand reached in to a point in our time and space, and said, "I'm here.  It's okay."  And it reaches still.

He is mine, and I am His.

And I feel grateful.

holy experience

Gifts #57 - 83

holding Baby Girl's sweet hand

time at night to think and know

Christ's humility

a cardinal in flight

tiger lilies wild on the roadside

beauty in unexpected places

church steeples in the countryside

new-to-me roads


a safe arrival

not getting lost

a day with girlfriends

encouragement from readers

my pastor's wife

The Stinker's hard work

a new dress

hot tea and honey on a sore throat

a husband who makes it

13 years married, 16 together


my mom sews

Baby Girl's white satin flower girl dress with a grass green sash

The Stinker's eyes lit up from praise

speaking love to my children

a funny doctor

family who loves on the kids (and me) when I'm sick (still) and speechless

working together to make home beautiful

pretty stone

blooming day lilies


Friday, June 11, 2010

It's a Love Story: Baby, Just Say "Yes"

It was a blind date.  My best friend wanted me to date her boyfriend's friend.  He was away at school but would be home in a week or so.  (We'd gone to high school together but had somehow missed each other.)  I didn't really want to.  I didn't know him . . . I'd been set up before . . . it hadn't gone so well. . .  

But she's stubborn and annoying, and I love her and wanted her to leave me alone, so I said, "Yes." 

It was June 11th, 1994 when he walked into my living room for the first time.  We went with my best friend and her boyfriend to a park and then putt-putting and back to her house for hot dogs over the fire and s'mores.  We sat on blankets and watched the stars and lightning in the distance.  He told stories and made me laugh.  He asked me out again, and I said, "Yes."

We enjoyed the summer together . . . movies, fireworks, picnics, the beach.  He went back to college, and I finished up my senior year of high school.  We wrote lots of letters and no emails. 

I went to college down the road from him.  We enjoyed a year of parties, studying next to each other (he did better when I was there than when I was not.  Really!), dollar movies, and eating in the cafeteria.  At the end of the year, at his fraternity formal, he got down on one knee.  I said, "Yes."

Another year of college, but this time also a year of planning and preparing for our wedding.  It was still a time of fun with friends and cheap dates, pizza and Chinese take-out.  But we added to that the fun of dreaming of the future while picking out invitations and tuxedos.

June 14th, 1997.  Our special day.

"Will you take this man . . . to be yours forever?" 

Of course, I said, "Yes."

And thirteen years later, I still say, "Yes."

And you . . . do you have a love story to share? 
Please say, "Yes," and share!

Do you have an old photo to share?  Link up on Fridays at parentingBYdummies Old School Photo Friday.  It's lots of fun!


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Feasting Continually (Word-Filled Wednesday)

"The cheerful heart

has a continual feast."

Proverbs 15:15

Baby Girl eats with gusto.  Now, I like food, and I actually think about it quite a bit.  The munchkins get hungry around here and expect three square meals a day and a snack in between.  I enjoy planning, preparing and partaking of deliciousness.  But I don't always relish it the way Baby Girl does.  She digs in with no thoughts of decorum.  She doesn't worry about what other people think of her as she enjoys her meals.  She even makes noises sometimes when it's particularly delightful, and her face beams her pleasure.

She feasts.  Continually.

She feasts like I wish to live in Christ:  unashamed, unhindered, undignified, and with unadulterated joy.  I want to be satisfied and happy in the God I worship.  Always.

"I will celebrate before the LORD.  I will become even more undignified than this" (2 Samuel 6:21-22).

I'm digging into His Word today with both hands and my whole heart.  Care to join me?
For another serving of the Word, visit Internet Cafe Devotions.  Fill up! 


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I Will Carry You

Awhile ago I asked for prayer for my friends that lost their newborn daughters.  (And I ask you to please continue your prayers.)

Shortly after that time, thanks to Ann Voskamp at Holy Experience, I learned of a book called I Will Carry You: the Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy. Written by Angie Smith, she beautifully, honestly shares the story of Audrey Caroline, their daughter who they were allowed to hold for just a few hours before she went on to Heaven. It's a heartrending love story that I sobbed through as I mourned with her and with my friends.

Angie's husband is in the group Selah, and I wanted to share this song with you: I Will Carry You (Audrey's Song).  You can find it on their album You Deliver Me.  I encourage you to listen, and then I encourage you to find the book and read it and share it.

It will break your heart, and it will bless you. Because the grief and the joy truly are intertwined in the dance.


Monday, June 7, 2010

A Treasure of Darkness

I lie in bed chasing shadow-thoughts.  I'm in the grip of anxiety, and I'm frustrated that I am here.  My husband is exhausted beside me, so the words remain inside.  I stare into the darkness and feel alone.  Thoughts consume me:  oil spills, the economy, privacy issues, future events that my children could suffer, The Thinker possibly leaving for school . . .

The way seems all darkness, and my eyes cannot penetrate it.  And in the quiet, words from a few mornings ago whisper in the chaos of my thoughts, "Moses approached the thick darkness where God was" (Exodus 20:21). 

The God who lives in unapproachable light cloaked Himself in darkness.  The God who is too brilliant and holy to look upon and live is shrouded in thick darkness. 

And I wonder . . . .

Is He hiding Himself in the darkness and just asking me to follow?  Although I can't see, He can, for the darkness is as light to Him.  The dark does not confuse or fear Him.  Instead, it is His invitation to walk in faith and trust, that as He holds my hand and leads, He will protect and guide me around and through and within what frightens. 

And He says, "I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name" (Isaiah 45:3).

image by Odyar

For it is in the darkness, we discover that our treasure is a deeper knowing and loving and understanding . . . of Him. 

He is the secret place.  He is the treasure.

Faith is to believe what we do not see;
the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.
-- Saint Augustine

And I begin to think on true and praiseworthy things and give thanks:

holy experience

#33 - 56

For His words dwelling in  my heart and giving me peace

A masterpiece dinner by The Thinker (grilled cheese and green beans)

Steaks on the grill

The Master Griller (my husband)

Wilted lettuce salad from our garden

Bedtime conversations

Pats on the back from Baby Girl

My husband's gifting a cleaned-out car

The first dip in my sister's pool

A swing set built by the men of the house

The Princess' first trip down the new slide

Working in the garden alongside the family

Picking strawberries with my mom

My husband's patient love

Baby Girl dresses

Clean sheets

The smell of rain

An organized Tupperware cabinet

A re-arranged family room

Baby Girl loving her grandparents

Books in the mail

Homemade bread


The first red raspberry of the season


Friday, June 4, 2010

An Old-Fashioned Day

There was life before the Internet (or so I remind myself).  It's just that I've become quite dependent upon it.  I'm not a big tv watcher; I've always preferred books and busyness to watching a tv show.  But there is a draw to the computer.  I rely on it for research when I'm studying, for ideas for children's lessons, for keeping in touch with friends, and now for journaling my thoughts.

So what happens when you choose to step away from the Internet (or when lightning strikes and chooses for you)?  Grin.

Well, you just might:

Weed around the flowers

Read a book instead of a blog

Set up all the Fisher-Price Little People sets and play

Spend more time outside with the kids

Pick up a pen and paper to jot down thoughts

Clean out a closet

Rediscover some great toys and books

Take a short nap

Snap a few pictures

Edit forgotten photos

Miss a few friends but make a few memories

Hope the inbox isn't overloaded and say thanks for those who extend grace!

So what might you do if you stepped away from the computer? 
And when did you last give it a rest?

If it's been awhile, I'm giving you permission to go now -- and enjoy!


Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Street Encounter

I decide at the last second to turn onto the street to the post office.  I need to mail a package even though my white jeans are mud-caked from my daughter's sandals, and I look a wreck.  (Friends over vanity:  it's good for me.)  I pull under the shade of a tall tree and glance across the street. 

My eyes rest on a startling sight:  a frail, white-haired woman is sprawled on the asphalt beside the sidewalk.  Her gray-headed husband is unsteadily making his way toward her to help.  I hurriedly give instructions to my son as I rush across the road to help.  The man's bent-over form is tenderly giving her the strength she needs to stand.

I pick up her sunglasses that had fallen off of her sweet face.  A lens is missing, which she is holding in her hand.  I assess the other damage:  the scraped knees, the gash on her papery-skinned hand, the abrasion on her forehead.  She sits in the seat of her car while I retrieve wipes and the first aid kid.  I am a mother.

Thoughts flood my mind.  Thoughts of aging and frailty. 

And then. . . . Christ thoughts.  The picture of the Groom and His bride.  Loving her tenderly as she ages.  His eyes ever attentive on her.  His arms ready to steady her.  His hands reaching out to her when she falls.  Picking her up to restore her, not to condemn her and scold her for her clumsiness or her inattentiveness.  And a picture of the church reaching in to work alongside the groom, to be His hands and feet, to treat wounds, to pick up and restore brokenness.

And her words, "I don't know how this happened.  I just don't understand.  I don't usually do this."  We often find ourselves in such a mess, don't we?  Looking at our bruised hearts or hurt relationships and wondering how on earth we wound up looking like this -- battle-weary.

I finish cleaning her up and bandaging her hurts.  She asks me what she owes me.  I'm confused and say, "Nothing.  I'm glad to be able to help."  And it is later as I'm pondering our meeting that I know she truly does owe me nothing.  It was Jesus who paid it all.  For any kindness or goodness we find in this world, it is to Him we all owe.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Feeling Grouchy (Word-Filled Wednesdays)

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable
-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy --
think about such things.
                                                                 ~ Philippians 4:8.

Sometimes my thoughts dwell in the garbage can of life.  They are negative, dishonest, clouded, ugly and well . . . grouchy.  And because my thoughts are living in the garbage can, my attitude and my words reek as well. 

I think it was Joyce Meyer in Battlefield of the Mind who said, "Think about what you're thinking about."  In other words, be aware of what's going on in your mind.  Don't welcome every thought in unbidden to take up residence and trash the place. 

Instead, "take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ," we're advised in 2 Corinthians 10:5.   It's a great cleansing agent.

Fill up with His Word.  You'll smell better to Him . . . and feel cleaner too.

(Oh, and thanks to Oscar for his June 1st birthday inspiration and his trash-loving ways.  Grin.)

Visit Internet Cafe Devotions for more Word-filled inspiration.

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