Thursday, December 23, 2010

more small things...

"Not all of us can do great things.
                         But we can do small things with great love." 
                                                                                                     Mother Theresa

Other writings and things that have blessed me this week:
Study in Brown
Holly Gerth
The Christmas Story

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

my favorite christmas song this year... Winter Snow by Audrey Assad

It is pretty, peaceful and reminds me of how the Lord met Elijah when he was weary and afraid:

The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”
   Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire.
And after the fire came a still small voice.
When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.                                                                                  ~1 Kings 19:11-13

And how Jesus, came to us, who are weary and afraid still:
The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 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 2:10-12

May this encourage us to remember who He is
                                                 and to be still and afraid no more...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

reminder of who I want to be...

Quote from Tonia @ Study in Brown:
"What I really want to be is... a tiny yellow flower hidden in a vast deep wood; a precious ointment shimmering in an alabaster box, poured out on the feet of Christ in love. "
Yellow trout lily, Erythronium americanum. It blooms in the woodland in mid-spring.
Yellow trout lily, Erythronium americanum. It blooms in the woodland in mid-spring.
Photo Credit to Colin Purrington.
Tonia reminds me what I want to be: something small, hidden, unnamed except by my Creator.  A nameless, faceless worshiper. Flowering and spent for Jesus.

"A woman in that town who lived a sinful life 
learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, 
so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 
As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, 
she began to wet his feet with her tears. 
Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them."   
~Luke 7:37-38

Monday, December 13, 2010

the garden in december


Enjoying the new season...

                  the clean, fresh snow...

the quiet renewal of what is hidden, dormant...

                       knowing that the green will rise again... 
                                          Spring will come.  

 Today... I need to take hold and be thankful for other small, beautiful moments in life...
  • hanging the gold christmas balls above the kitchen table 
  • ...while all three squeal about the ones on the floor
  • toddler masterpiece of tangled ornaments
  • trip to the post office accomplished
  • mail bound for South America
  • baby laughs
  • warm, dry place to run
  • garlands with lights and gold ribbon
  • The Parable of Joy and Scribbling in the Sand, both by Michael Card 
  • Jesus' delight in a party
"The feast, or party, is part of the foundation of Christianity.  Here at Cana, Jesus performs His first miracle, so it could be said that our faith, in a sense, began at a party.  Early in the history of the church, times of fellowship resembled parties, or love feasts... How could a group of Christians coming together not resemble a celebration? Even as the Christian faith began at a banquet, so it will come to completion at a wedding feast."                                                          From pg. 42 of Parable of Joy by Michael Card


Friday, December 10, 2010

the all-weather gardener...

     One cold late-autumn day, I stay inside to do the wife-task of ironing collared shirts for my husband... which I actually enjoy, sometimes, when I can put on music and make it a kind of meditative, worship time... one of the few times that I allow myself to slow down and be reflective while still in my house full of chores.

The pile has over a dozen shirts that I have saved up (or maybe ignored) until I must do this task.
     I heat up the iron, turn on the music and  
          let the Lord start to iron out the wrinkles in my heart...

I draw my curtains back so that I can look out onto the Shade Path while I work...

  The song on loop is one of my new favorites, Matt Maher's "Garden"... it is quiet (which I need while my two toddlers and one baby sleep), peaceful, and reminds me of the Lord's presence with me...
And you walk with me
You never leave
You're making my heart a garden
  As I start to relax, I begin to let down from my long day.  Being the mother of three small children can be exhausting!  I give, and give, and try to give more though my flesh is howling in resentment.  I am worn from their needs and requests, but also from the battle with my own selfishness.

I am faced in this quiet moment with my sinfulness... the mess that is my life... all that I do not do...
     and all that I do, that I hate...

And I look out at that cold, almost frosted garden...

Everything green is dying down...
   what's left looks  
     broken, brown, shabby...
     on its way into the dormant season...
     the cold, frozen, dead-looking season...

                                  ...Like my heart
                                                    looks and feels.

   Our Shade Path is very near to the sidewalk and the road, and our home is situated on a fairly busy street headed into the downtown area.  Many, many times in this fall planting season
I have been out gardening in the cold afternoon... sometimes in the rain with water dripping down my hood... sometimes with fingers mostly frozen 

And they pass me by.

The cars... the kids walking home from school.  And I feel the weight of curious,  
                    unbelieving eyes as they see me out there in that nasty weather.
                                                                               I think to myself, "They must think I am crazy."

  And what am I doing?  I am perfecting my garden.
That brown mess.   Beloved mess.  Truly, I am out there because I love it!
I love admiring what is there, even in this harsh season.

  I am tweaking the beauty that will exist next year... moving seedlings... planting hundreds of bulbs...
The beauty is hidden, dormant... cannot be seen by normal vision right now.
Only through eyes of faith can I see it already full of flowers... 
new growth... new color combinations... new heights of beauty. 
And you walk with me
You never leave
You're making my heart a garden

...the chorus sings on and I am suddenly struck: I am a garden!
I am brown and broken, yet loved by my Gardener
He tends me in the most caring way...
looking happily at the new growth here and shuffling more bulbs there...  
and He is making my heart beautiful.

Like me, He is an all-weather gardener...
     enjoying me right where I am,
          and patiently working into me the beauty that is to come.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A mama's regrets and redemption...

     Last night as I went to sleep and my mind had room enough to play back the moments of the day, I remembered the sharp words I had spoken to Grace, my six-year-old at lunchtime... and the way we had hurried through the morning without hugs or greetings... and that we rushed to nap, rushed to meet with church friends, and rushed home again... then to bed with only a half kiss.

And then I remembered seeing small, reproachful glances... the look from a soul who knows she is being brushed aside, not valued.

And it was then, on my pillow, that I realized:  I had never stopped to enjoy her... to hug her long... to appreciate the wild imagination that fills her head...

I had not seen the bright blue eyes that beam when her mommy loves on her.
They were not there yesterday.

And the Spirit softened the stone. 

"I want to love better tomorrow.  To let her know that she has a mommy who cares, though not perfectly. To not be so caught up in my self-centered life that I miss more moments to share in her life."

     This morning, I woke up not really remembering the regrets of last night, but feeling a sense of commitment to loving Grace better today. Very briefly, I thought that the time to start would be during our school lesson in the morning, and maybe by just spending some time snuggled reading together instead of trying to plow through a math lesson as we have been doing everyday... but  
I promptly forgot all about spending "special time" as the day accelerated on.

Then, as Grace and I sat down to reading, writing and arithmetic, she asked in her quiet voice, "Do you think maybe... um... we could sit on your bed and read our chapter book together? That is really fun." 

And I told her that the Spirit was alive in her heart because He had already told mommy that is what we should do together this morning... but I forgot.  And she reminded me.  

Thankful today for things like:
  • the return of shining blue eyes
  • sorrow for short, pointed words
  • wanting to try again
  • a new day with fresh white snow
  • a six-year-old who loves to listen to chapter books
  • ... and to play in the snow with her little sister
  • a baby who is mesmerized by the christmas carolers
  • an extra rug for all the wet, snowy boots to sit on
  • Christmas tree light to type by
  • twice re-warmed, white rose tea
  • hands to help me move three small children through the snow and into the car (thanks, emily :)
  • quiet napping house

    Sunday, December 5, 2010

    Winter wonderland...

     The hunt for our Christmas tree this year took us
                                                      beyond our own garden
                 into the wild 
    and the beauty to be found there...

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010


    to my husband for his fabulous work on my site.  New header and favicon:)

    I love you!  xx

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010

    Weary, rainy day...

    "How are you doing?" my friend asked me.

    "...weary...", I said.  "I am doing pretty well at not taking it out on my kids - not being overly angry with them or constantly frustrated. But, inside, I just feel worn out."

    It is a sleepy day today... with the rain coming down outside in cold November sheets. And though I know that the Lord sends it to refresh the parched plants in the ground- especially the ones newly moved and not given the luxury of a deep drink...

    I do not feel refreshed.   

    I feel worn.

    And yet, is He not here today to give me  rain for my soul,

    just as He cares for those dried out roots?

    The plants need to prepare for the long winter ahead.

    They will need the moisture that the rain brings today because soon the ground will be so hard, so frozen that they will not be able to drink.  Kind of like when summer sun dries everything to dust, there is a parched time also in the winter, with it's desiccating winds.

    And if I do not drink today, when He gives it, how will I survive... or even enjoy... the next test that comes along the way?

    "For every good and perfect gift is from above,
    coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights..."
    James 1:17

    Tuesday, November 9, 2010

    To "blog" or not to "blog"

    This is a new beginning for me... one that I have wondered at for a while... wondered if I had "what it takes"... or even the desire... to write and put myself out for all to see... is it even worthwhile?  Would anyone care?

    And in wondering this and gaining momentum and then promptly dismissing it, today I was confronted with thoughts and vision from ann about what it means to write and attempt to speak into the void of the internet... and that it usually is more of a step of faith to speak into the void that is in us first.

    I still do not know... am still tentative.

    But maybe I will try... even just a little.

    But not anymore today...

    Bloom 2010

    Tulips Shirley and Cum Laude, Forget-me-nots, variegated yellow loose-strife, phlox sublagata and Heuchra 'Purple Palace'

    Photos from this growing season at Gilmore Gardens... complete list in Photostream on Flickr

    Saturday, August 21, 2010

    Borrowed letter from a mom past her season...

    Here is a letter sent to Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience that really encourages me in my mothering:

    All of my chicks have left the nest. They are rearing and nurturing their own.

    It’s funny that all of the messy piles of unfolded laundry and the mail and important papers that lined the counter, the things I longed to have put in order when they were here --- are still here.

    But, they and their sounds and their smells, the fragrance of their presence has gone. Drifted into the memories I hold and cherish.

    I do not live in the past but I would love to have one more day when I hear their laughter and their conversation drift down the stairs and the aroma of their shampoo from their bath and the clamour of books and items being prepared for school.

    Just the joy of their daily lives intertwined with mine and their activities shared with me hourly. It all escaped too suddenly.

    There were many days I wished for just a little quiet. Now the quiet is sometimes way too loud.

    So, a little revelation from one who has been where you are, in the middle of domestic chaos:

    Enjoy every inch of the mess and those responsible for it, appreciate the unfolded laundry and the scattered papers, books, and shoes, smile at the dirty dishes and tracked floors.

    They are all a real sign of real life going on around you. Life to be loved and lived and devoured one minute at a time.

    If only there were a way to lasso the days and slow them down and hold on to each moment and each child. If only!

    Your friend in Christ,

    Anna Margaret in Louisiana

    Monday, August 16, 2010

    Dancing in the Minefield

    ...fantastic song about persevering in loving your husband/wife and the joy found there... has played on repeat in our home many mornings after a night of difficult "discussions"...

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010

    Allium christophii and A. 'Purple Sensation'

    ...on our Front Walk

    2 Corinthians 3

     1-3Does it sound like we're patting ourselves on the back, insisting on our credentials, asserting our authority? Well, we're not. Neither do we need letters of endorsement, either to you or from you. You yourselves are all the endorsement we need. Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God's living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives—and we publish it.  
    4-6We couldn't be more sure of ourselves in this—that you, written by Christ himself for God, are our letter of recommendation. We wouldn't think of writing this kind of letter about ourselves. Only God can write such a letter. His letter authorizes us to help carry out this new plan of action. The plan wasn't written out with ink on paper, with pages and pages of legal footnotes, killing your spirit. It's written with Spirit on spirit, his life on our lives!

    Friday, May 28, 2010

    Sing Over Your Children by Matt Maher

    ...this song has reminded me yet again of the Father's great love for us... of his relentless pursuit of our hearts and of my call to love my children like He loves me...
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