Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Putting Down This Thing (My Farewell)

Just One More Thing (sung by Sara Groves)

There's always just one more thing
There's always another task
There's always "I just have one more small favor to ask"
And everything is urgent and everything is now
I wonder what would really happen if I stopped somehow

I'll be there in a minute
Just a few places to go
You wake up a few years later and your kids are grown
And everything is important
But everything is not
At the end of your life your relationships are all you've got

And love to me is when you put down that one more thing and say
I've got something better to do
And love to me is when you walk out on that one more thing and say
Nothing will come between me and you
Not even one thing

There will never be an end to
The request upon your time
It's your place to stand up and tell the world
You've got to rest awhile. . .

I'm putting down this one more thing called Sugar Tails.  I have loved writing here.  I've loved getting to "meet" new people.  I've loved sharing my writing and finding that it resonates with some of you.  I've loved adding images to my words and sharing part of my heart, but . . .

First of all, my heart belongs to God.  My writing used to be only for Him.  I miss that.  I miss pouring my heart though pen solely for His eyes.  I miss knowing for sure that it's still about Him first.  And yes, I could turn off comments, but . . .

I'd still wonder, I think, if someone was reading.  And wonder what they thought.  And above all, I want to make sure that my identity is in my Savior and not in others' thoughts of me.  Especially since I value your thoughts.

And one more (important and urgent) thing: my precious ones.  My sugars.  Because they are my something better. And I want nothing to come between them and me.

Let all you do be done in love. 
1 Corinthians 16:14 (ESV)

Perhaps, I will have something to share again someday.  For now, I need silence here so that this thing doesn't become that one more task, that one more thing.  As Ann Voskamp said best, "It’s the words we’re writing on hearts that last forever."  I put this down because right now that's love to me, and I love them.  And Him.  I want to live in love and write forever on their hearts.  And to let Him write forever on mine.

For every word of encouragement and kindness you have gifted to me, I am forever blessed.  Thank you.

May the blessings return to you, my friends.

I'm linking up one last time to Internet Cafe Devotions, where the Word takes center stage.


Monday, January 10, 2011

My First Gift

He made me a mom.  I remember the doctor's words when she called us into her office to let us know that, no, I was not experiencing the flu.  What I had was going to last much longer.  I remember her grin and my shock at the unexpected news and the silence in the car as my husband and I processed the idea of a change in the timing our dreams.

The best change ever.

I remember the fierce love I felt so early on, so surprising to me, when I experienced some possible complications and feared the loss of that tiny promise of life.  I remember begging God to let everything be okay.  I remember the fear and the anticipation of considering being a parent for the first time.  I remember the first kicks . . . the first of everything.

And then he arrived.  I had never experienced such joy.  When we brought him home, we took turns holding him, examining him, memorizing him, admiring him . . . awed that this perfect baby boy was ours to keep.  Ours alone. 

He taught me the ropes of newborn care -- the shocking realization of what true dependency means.  The all-hours feedings, the "right-now" attitude.  The realization that the labor of his birth was nothing compared to the new job I alone had now.  This thing called motherhood.  I didn't think I could do it. 

And then he smiled.  Four weeks into being on call to a demanding tyrant, he offered a gift, and I was forever hooked.  I didn't realize just how many gifts he had offered me before that moment until much later . . . . how many lessons he was teaching me and how many moments I didn't know would never return.  And I wish now my memory was better or that I could go back and relive just a day now and again.

And now The Thinker's eleven.  Just like that.

He's led me through so many different stages of life, surprising me, frustrating me, challenging me, and captivating me at every turn.  Now, he's this compassionate, competitive, intelligent, handsome, and funny boy-turning-man.  And I long to hold him tightly as he is, for I'm so much more aware of how quickly time passes, how soon he will no longer be eleven but eighteen and then thirty. 

Yet even as I long to hold on, every day I pray that he turns less ours and more His and that he will let his Heavenly Father guide him wherever that will take him.

And wherever that is, he will always, always, carry my heart.

Happy Birthday to my first gift born.

And I count one more time my many gifts #576 - 589:

birthdays to count

grace in parenting

the timing of my first gift

the lessons God teaches through our children

agape love

the privilege of watching children grow

The Thinker has a spiritual birthday too

another reason to gather with family in winter

conversation with my sisters and my brother

Baby Girl's "Happy Birthday to you"

The Stinker's excitement in choosing a gift (and "can't I give both?")

comfort in the hope that each season of life will have its joys . . .

and that moving forward means moving closer

each and every hug from all my Gifts


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

One Less Orphan

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.  James 1:27

Some of the best people I know have adopted children.  They understand the privilege of being adopted into God's family, and they know the call to love and care deeply for others in great need.  This family is among the best.

We adore them.  Chris and Anne and their boys are great friends and great people and are doing a great thing.  We had the privilege of serving with them at one time when Chris was the youth pastor at our church.  We've both since moved in different directions (fiddlesticks!) to serve in other places and other ways.  Now, they are in the process of living out Christ's call by filling that empty chair of theirs with a precious child in need.  As a member of His Body, I want to help them and others like them.  I would like to have at least a small part of caring for those in great need, in being part of something eternal.  Knowing your heart,  I bet you would like a chance to do something as well. 

Buy a shirt (just click on those words in pink for more information).  One hundred percent of the money goes toward the adoption expenses, which as many of you know, are enormous. 

Start the new year with purpose and compassion (and a cool shirt!  Grin).  Bring their little guy, a sweet child with special needs from China, to their home.  Be a part of something God loves.


Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 
James 1:22 

Let there be one less orphan and a chance for one more member of the best family of all.  God's.

For more encouragement in the Word, visit Internet Cafe Devotions

 To put your faith into action, consider visiting Graves family blog 
(who had no idea I was spreading the word -- I just love surprises)
and support their adoption. 

What better way to walk with Him, than to make a habit of giving sacrificially?


Monday, January 3, 2011

I'm Doing You a Favor Because I Like You

Perhaps I live under a rock.  I sometimes wonder if I'm the last person to discover great books, toys, ideas, artists, and so on.  Some time ago, I rediscovered a great song and spent the season enjoying it.  It's a lovely, beautiful song called Winter Snow, simple and gorgeous with touching lyrics.  I grew fonder with each listen, so much so that I asked my husband for the artist's CD for Christmas. 

He listened, God bless him. 

Perhaps you live under a rock too.  If so, let me share a few lyrics with you from the CD my husband gave me for Christmas called The House You're Building (which is not a Christmas album and does not contain "Winter Snow") because you don't want to miss this. 

You live in a million places
Your fingerprints can be seen on a million faces
There is a trace of You in every hallelujah
Every song that I sing

For love of You
I'm a sky on fire
Because of You I come alive
And it's Your sacred heart within me beating
Your voice within me singing out
For love of You

You are the highway I travel
Cause I watched You carve streets of gold from the sand and gravel
I gave you brokenness
You gave me innocence
And now, this road leads to glory
For Love of You

And if that doesn't win you over, how about these words:

As the dew falls on the blade
You have touched all this fragile frame
And as a mother knows her baby's face
You know me
As the Summer air within my chest
I have breathed You deep down into my breast
And as You know the hairs upon my head
Every thought and every word I've said

Savior, You have known me as I am
Healer, You have known me as I was
As I will be
In the morning, in the evening
You have known me.

If you haven't already, get to know Audrey Assad.  If you know her, share.

You're welcome.

Counting old and new gifts and those new-to-me #551- 575:

a husband who spoils me

new songs

Winter Snow


sledding with my family

silly boys

winter lambs

snowmen and the children who build them

a white Christmas

our annual Christmas Eve traditions, plus new memories

shared communion and "Silent Night" by candlelight in a circle in the sanctuary

winter snow falling, quiet, soft and slow as we left the church

Christmas morning and day

and the next day

and the next (so much family!)

Cella's chocolate covered cherries in my stocking (yum!)

the blessing of being able to give well

the excitement on my sugars' faces because of what they're giving

their belief in the One who gives best

her request to sing "Jesus Loves Me"

her whisper in church days later, "Jesus loves me."


a new year full of promise and mystery


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Longing for Home

I've been feeling a bit blue these days after Christmas.  I've tried distraction -- focusing on other things.  I've tried planning our summer vacation so I could anticipate something else that was good.  I've counted my gifts with Ann.  While these things helped, it didn't completely take the let-down away. 

I was on my way home from getting groceries the other night when the tears came.  It was a Sara Groves' song that did it, pieces of lyrics from "Every Minute" that gave me permission.

And I can think of time when families all lived together
Four generations in one house
And the table was full of good food
And friends and neighbors . . . .

And I wish all the people I love the most
Could gather in one place
And know each other and love each other well . . .

As she sang these lyrics about longing for more time together with friends and that togetherness of all she loves in one place, I realized that this was the true cause for my sadness.  I'm longing for Heaven -- family and friends gathered together, joy and love expressed so fully, celebrating the One who authored it all.  These are the best parts of Christmas.  And this is Heaven. 

I no longer have to feel bad for having a bit of after-Christmas blues.  It just reminds me what I really long for -- my forever home.

But there's far more to life for us. We're citizens of high heaven! We're waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He'll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.  Philippians 3:20-21, The Message

As I entered the door of my home that night, I heard Baby Girl's running feet as she joyfully announced "Mommy's hooooooooome!"

My heart soars at her exuberant love, and I think of another forever day when we will each hear an even better, and final, version of welcome home.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Gift for You That Will Make You Rich

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;
he is the Messiah, the Lord.
This will be a sign to you:
You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. 
Luke 2:11-12

Let the stable still astonish
Straw — dirt floor, dull eyes
Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked walls;
No bed to carry that pain
And then, the child,
Rag-wrapped, laid to cry
In a trough.
Who would have chosen this?

Who would have said “Yes,”
“Let the God of all the heavens
And earth
Be born here, in this place”?

Who but the same God
Who stands in the darker, fouler rooms
of our hearts
and says “Yes,”
“Let the God of Heaven and Earth
be born here –
in this place.”
                                                                                Leslie Leyland Fields

You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich
2 Corinthians 8:9

Sharing with you the wonder of the miracle . . . the gift of the Lord born in our dark hearts.  It's our own rags to riches story.

Have a Blessed Christmas and New Year!

Celebrate the gift of the Savior born to you with Internet Cafe Devotions.

*The photo was taken at a recent visit to the live nativity in Christmas Town at the Creation Museum in Kentucky.  I highly recommend the trip!*


Monday, December 20, 2010

When Christmas is Over

I spent weeks planning and shopping and five days baking, cooking, cleaning and preparing.  

I made cake pops with some helpful tips from Alyssa at Loving Life 365.  (They turned out much better than last time.)

I baked gingersnaps and dipped them in white chocolate.  Mmmmm.

I stirred together a marbled chocolate bark recipe.

I whipped up chocolate covered cheesecake squares and maple sugar candy.

I served, among several other things, cheese and crackers, bacon-wrapped jalapenos, veggies and dip, and gingerbread men with a pumpkin dip (thanks to a good friend).  The table was full, and that night, so was my house.  It was wonderful.  

We ate the yummies, shared lots of laughter, played for a prize, exchanged ornaments.

And cookies.

The fellowship was delicious.

And then it was over. 

There are just a few days left of Advent.  A few more days of lighting hope, love, peace and joy until the light of the Christ child flames.  There are just a few days left of baking and wrapping and secretive smiles and whispered conversations.

And then it will be over.

The lights will come down, the presents will be put away, the ornaments that mean so much stored for another year.  The anticipation of Christmas packed away.

But not the anticipation of the Christ.

I still wait for Him.  And I will keep Christmas.

"Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End."  Revelation 22:12-13

Come, Lord Jesus.

Keeping Christmas by counting gifts #530 - 550:
beautiful cookies brought by beautiful women

Christmas joy

hugs and laughter

sparkling glass dishes

red candles in white snow

a snow day for The Thinker

the question, "Mom, can we pray?"

holding a newborn baby

playing in the snow with my children and my best friend's boys

safely driving on the white stuff

trees laced with snow

The Stinker's first public piano performance

glittering cattails on a frozen pond

finding the perfect tree with my mom and dad

Christmas Town at the Creation Museum

a live nativity

thousands of lights

good in-laws to share the experience with

the story told anew

The Savior

the expectation of His return

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