Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Three Simple Questions

Where are my thoughts today?

Am I stressing over preparations, schedules, kids, work?

Where is my focus?

Is it inward or am I striving to be a light?

What is the condition of my heart?

Am I taking the time to cultivate relationships with others?

I've been asking myself these three questions every morning before I rustle the sheets and exit the covers. In the time between my eyes starting to flutter open and the pulling on of my sneakers, I'm working on being heart intentional.

I've found that it's not enough lately to simply pray before I thoughts are too scattered with the day scrolling behind my lids.

I have to give it all to Him...

He knows my needs, my plans, my hopes.  He was there first. He created and gave me this beautiful life that I am so very privileged to experience. I do not take that lightly.  I do sometimes lack in the remembrance of giving it all back to Him.  I tend to take and hold on tightly, rather than releasing when the time comes... In the asking of three simple questions, I remember...It's not mine. It is His. He came to have a relationship with me. 

I pause in wonder...

He came as a baby to poor parents. He was born in a manger, full of stinky, loud animals. He was human. He knows what this world holds and how we think, feel, and react.  He came as a baby...because HE loves us.

His heart was intentional, His thoughts were for us, His focus was on a weary, dark world. 

He came at Christmas.

It's about the coming. The showing up. The willingness to be used.  That is what I'm hearing when I ask myself those three questions.

What do you hear when you ask yourself questions such as these? How are you preparing your heart for Christmas?

"Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; 
he is Christ 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 NIV

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Finding the Merry


The winner of the David Crowder Band "Oh for Joy" album is Kristin Smith.

I loved hearing all about your favorite carols and songs for this season; it seems that for all of us, music is both a heart and memory aid.

.   .   .   .

It's been a crazy few weeks around here. The prof has been travelling and doing a ton of project work  which translates to I've been going it alone since he went to Spain in October; hopefully  this will change in the next few weeks so he may actually enjoy the holiday. I've been searching for a new dance studio for the chicks loooong story where their hearts as well as there feet will find joy. Christmas decisions, shopping, ordering, wrapping and then sending have been a solo experience USPS is a super fun place to stand in line for an hour. Add all of this to the normal homeschooling, wife/mother duties, bill paying and house maintaining and I've not felt a whole lot like myself lately. I've not felt very merry.

All that said, I know I'm not alone. Most women experience pieces of all the above during Christmas. Single, married, kids or not, we feel responsible for making sure the merry is in the Christmas. 

We expect too much of ourselves.

We watched our mothers pull it all together seemingly with small effort. The homemade cookies, beautifully decorated fresh-cut tree, lights on every outdoor bush.

I'm not that mother.  Neither was my mother, although she did do most of those things very well and appeared to be so to the outside world.

My mom baked and decorated well into the early hours of the day. Everything was from scratch. She was our room mother, painting ornaments with Santa faces for our classmates and organizing elaborate parties back in the day when public school allowed them. Our tree was perfect. Every light just so. The exterior of our little home was inviting and well lit and no bulb needed replacing.  But inside?  We were on edge and it wasn't something out of a Hallmark channel movie. My parents were often at each other, the dog ate any and all toys we left on the floor and the peed by the door when she didn't get enough attention, and sometimes it took four tries to get the homemade pie crust right.

I work at NOT replicating my Christmas memories for my children. 

My goal here in the nest is to create some merry.

Instead of baking I head to our local spot for goodies. I'm sure the mixer will get pulled out at some point in the near future for a batch of shortbread cookie making, but until the schedule clears I'm not going to stress about perfection and home-baked goodness. If I stay up trying to be the one who always gets it done, I'm half the mother/wife/teacher I need to be in the morning. I've learned that downtime is as important, if not more so, than confectionery goodness. I can pay a bit more to create that for our family.

I ordered almost all of the gifts online this year. There was no perusing of the shelves or walking miles from the car to the store. I didn't do it. I did miss being out and having comparison choices in front of me, but the whole find, order, arrive at the door concept was incredibly attractive. Note to self: purchase cookies for the poor postman who keeps running up to my door and ringing the bell to announce the arrival of gifts.

My girls lament the fact that we've not decorated outdoors. I usually hang roping garland strung with lights the length of the wrap-around porch. Sigh. On this one, I feel a bit bad, but when given the choice between three hours spent on outdoor decorating and that same period being used for catching up on history with the grace girl, it's history any day of the week. We've got an incredibly challenging curriculum in Omnibus 1 -- The Odyssey  and the complete Narnia series are on tap this month. It takes time and patience, and those are two things I'd rather give to my babe than the lights and evergreen boughs.

All that being said, our home was full decorated by mid-November. We've enjoyed Christmas cookies, lights hung on garland which hangs from the banister, a lovely tree, and plenty of carols and cocoa.  I work on making memories with my babes that will last, that are free from stressed undertones and harsh words. I've work on putting the merry back in Christmas, even it means that some of the what's traditionally included looks to be missing this year.

But that which seems to be missing? It's all in the eye of the beholder.

I encourage you to find some merry and stop lamenting the figure out traditions that work for you and your give up a little perfect and find a lot of joy.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Music is a HUGE part of our home. My Little Bit hums and sings and twitters everywhere she goes and in all she does...much to the dismay of her older sister. I sang to the chicks in the womb, we play tunes constantly, and both girls have a strong affinity for the piano.  Silent Night?  Not in our home. Smirk.

With it being the Christmas season, we've changed up our playlists and found new favorites for the Pandora stations. I've always felt that Bing, Frank, and Judy do it best with the classics, but this year we've expanded our repertoire outside of the norms to include David  Crowder Band's new album, Oh For Joy. It is honestly the best Christmas album I've heard in ages. Seeing as it's Christmas, and giving is so much better than receiving, I'll be gifting an iTunes copy of the album if you leave a comment below by midnight on December 10th.  I know hearing it will be good for your heart, your spirit, your joy levels.

My all time favorite carol is Oh Holy Night. All. Time. Favorite. Here's DCB doing it justice:

What are some of your favorite carols and songs? 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Satin Ribbon

The tree comes out the weekend after my birthday, usually going up amid shouts and cheers for our boys in blue as I carefully unwrap precious ornaments given decades ago.

The small pieces of cloth, glass, metal, and wood are treasures in our home; Each piece gave me pause.

I stood, remembering the friend who so lovingly stitched our "Yard of the Month" ornament while we were in the Navy together.  Those years when the grace girl was toddling around and I was ripping out bushes and changing landscaping in officer attention to something that stayed done for more than four minutes with an active babe in the house. It was the three of us, a time where work didn't come home with the man because it was classified and our nights and weekends were all ours to shower our girl with stories and play and attention.

Then came the block "M" for the years of the PhD and little bit joining us...the hospital she was born in bearing the same title as the University where her daddy studied, taught, and did research. The place where she spent weeks in the NICU and the place we still support with our hearts on autumnal Saturdays.

The glass heart caught my eye and it caused a deep breath, knowing it was on her tree too, we each had one, tying us together.

 A littler lower sits the log cabin cloth, quilted by my gram's hand years ago, playing a song and reminding me of all that was good in her.

I gazed at the faces of my babes in frames scattered round the tree, with two shoes, four years apart, hung on the horizontal and remembered how we searched high and low to find that very same ornament for little bit's first Christmas.

I found Cinderella, nestled in the branches, gently twirling her skirt and recalled the year we went to Disney World and all a chubby cheeked three year old wanted to do was go and visit "Cinder-hella". She was almost cherubic in her look then, a look long past as she's now reaching my cheekbone and sharing my shoes.  But that year? She loved princesses, the ornament, and the replica of Cinderella's Castle she received as a gift.

Front and center went joy and the ballet slippers. One for each of my chicks. Full of spirit and grace and laughter.

I thought the tree was finished. I thought it had everything it needed on it this year.

Until tonight...

....When a most treasured and appreciated package arrived on my porch.  A new ornament from a new I've actually been blessed with hugging in real life.  Across the miles, she included me in her extended family Christmas tradition.  Her beautiful script flowing across the front of her card, my eyes all welly, I bounded down the stairs, grabbed a hook, and finished our tree.

A simple satin ribbon sets it apart from the others, but I think it looks like it's always been there, don't you? It made me think about the ways in which we hold our memories and how they are triggered. How sight and tradition are such powerful parts of our story.

I'm so thankful for friends, new and old. For hearts that stretch across state lines and hug ours in unexpected and appreciated ways. For emails that share openly. For prayer requests.  For girls who nestle in the hallows. For the first flakes of snow that made their appearance on the way home from tumbling class...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Eyes Wide Open

"The secret to joy is to keep seeking God when we struggle to see where He is."
-Ann Voskamp

Sometimes, the easy thing to do is give up. stop trying. stop caring. stop doing.

We struggle to find Him in the places that are shadowy. We don't look closely; we merely glance,  then sigh in frustration at our seeming night blindness.

In the dark, we shut our eyes, squinting them tightly against any light that may peek under the lids. 

A bright that desires to come in, that steals under cracks and corners and shows as a sliver and reflection in places where we try to hide from it.

Light that warms, heals, brings rest to the weary soul.

It's in the struggle that we find out who we are, what we're made of, who He's making of us in the glorious mess we've made of ourselves. 

In the struggle we find that it's not as much about seeing Him as it is the knowing Him.  

It's about finding light in reflection.

In the shadows.

Our God is right there with us in dark as well as bright.

It is all about having eyes that open in the dark and gaze through the fog, seeking the clear view just beyond our grasp.

That's where the joy is.

It's in eyes wide open on the journey.

Grateful for....

eyes that open so very wide

Monday, November 21, 2011

Counting Blessings

"We give thanks not because of how we feel...but
because of Who He is..."
-Ann Voskamp

This is a week of thanksgiving, in word, in deed, in practice.

A week where we pause and count our blessings, give our thanks.

A week to remember...








There is gratitude in the remembrance; allowing ourselves to visit the year with fresh eyes and an open heart, seeing what we may have missed in the hurried of the day.

Giving thanks in all things, because His purpose is present even in the shadows. They shape us, define us, allow us to find a strength within that could only come from Him. In the dark, we are hallowed out and space is shaped for Him to come in.  Our invitation, most often, is when we are in the dark places.

The thanksgiving? It is a response of gratitude. Of joy. It is an acknowledgement of the One who gives us all good things in His time.

His time.  Not ours.

This holiday we celebrate once a year?  This thankful we express on a Thursday in late November as the last leaves fall from the trees and family gathers 'round?  This heart response? It should be a regular guest at my table. Welcome. Invited. Cherished. Nurtured.

It's easy to pick apart the foul, the ugly, the insignificant. I'm challenging myself to continue to hold tight to the grateful. The thankful. The response He calls for and I long to give at the end of a long day, week, month, year...

I count the gifts every day. Every. Day.

I search out the beauty in the ordinary.  She may be hard to see, but she's always there, waiting to surprise me at the most unexpected of times.

I cherish.  Big time.

It's not easy.  It's a choice, this thanksgiving in the heart.  I make it because He loved me. First. Always. He created it all...

He created YOU.

I'm thankful.

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you
were called in one body. And be thankful..."
-Col 3:15 ESV

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Physical Therapy

Sometimes, the rain and temperature drop combine for a caustic combination on the body.  

I tell my chicks that our walk for today is on hold, seeing as one of my ribs doesn't feel much like cooperating with the rest of the cage.  Sitting up straight is virtually impossible. Deep breaths take work.  


The eldest conspires with the little. They are supposed to be studying for a Latin exam as I lay flat on the  floor, the only position offering relief at this point.

A plan has been reached.

"You take her arms and I'll grab her legs and we'll both pull, okay?"

... WHAT???

Tiny hands encircle my wrists, stronger ones grasp at my ankles. The dog decides to come and lick my face. I'm trapped.  Protesting quickly turns into belly laughter as they both start pulling in opposite directions.  

Round 2, all pulling at once...I grabbed the camera between giggles

I'm not in any less discomfort as I type this, but a smile nudges at the corner of my cheeks....

Physical therapy for the day? Check.

Heart therapy? Double check.

Today I'm thankful for girls who do the silly to make my heart smile even when I'm not there yet...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


When life gives you puddles...

Grab a partner in crime

Take a leap
Hold on tightly

Laugh with abandon

Make a big splash
Empty your boots

Begin afresh

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Last week, I missed the Gypsy Mama's Five Minute Friday.  We were travelling to Greenville, SC,  for a dance competition and convention for our grace girl, and I don't have wireless in the vehicle.

Today I'm downright exhausted from the travel, the waiting, the stress and three consecutive mornings which began before five a.m., but I desire to write.  I just need a bit of inspiration.

So, I'm choosing a grace offered to me in the form of "Unexpected"...

Five minutes, no editing, no turning back.  Writing for the joy of it all...

.   .   .   .   .   
Unexpected.  The word which defines six out of the last seven days.

Synonymous with  the likes of : unforseen, unlooked-for, surprising, abrupt.

The definition of my heart at each new turn and bump and rise in the road.

The events of  last week were completely out-of-the-blue. How we dealt with them was even more surprising.  Proud and shocked in equal measure at how the professor blanketed his babes with protection. Amazed at the maturity of the chicks.  Thankful for the support of friends especially those here in this world of mine and family who offered support. The love was unlooked-for but completely appreciated. My heart? Humbled.

Our girl danced with her whole heart this weekend, which was not unexpected. She is one that goes full speed ahead and chases her dream with abandon.  This child, our eldest, does everything full force. We were hopeful that all of her dedication and effort would show.  Complete precision as she competed and earned a second overall for her solo...maturity in a situation far beyond her years.  She went on to compete all weekend at the convention  for a title which would earn her a repeat trip to NYC (her goal for the year). On Sunday, her name was called above all of the runners up. Awarded the Junior Female VIP title -- unexpected.  Deserved.

Today, I'm thankful for the unexpected in our lives. The way it challenges and grows us beyond measure as we discover strength within and reach for dreams far beyond a normal grasp.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Stardust Underfoot

"It is never easy to keep reaching for dreams. Strength and 
courage can sometimes be lonely friends. But for those
who do reach for stars, they walk in stardust."

This weekend, we chased dreams with our grace girl.  

She reached. 

She sparkled.

Joy was in her eyes.

She soared.

Stardust was underfoot.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

First Step

Her maturity astounds me.

How this girl woman at the most unexpected of times shows me how to accept what seems unthinkable and unfair and cruel.

Her arms wrap all the way around me, the cap of her hair no longer nestled at my chin but at my high cheekbone.

No tears are shed.

Her sister, a wisp of a lass, sobs when I break the news.

My grace girl?  She envelopes the little in her chest and repeats what I am already murmuring..."I'm so sorry, sweet pea, so sorry...we'll find something else, we'll make it alright...He'll make it work out the way it is supposed to..."

I believe it.

I believe that there is a bigger plan in place in our lives.

I know I am not privy to all of the details.

I trust, most times, blindly.

I incorporate the trust, the belief, the letting go into my life and consequently theirs.


Not that things are all going to turn out rosy, but that they'll turn out according to His plan.

I'm thankful I'm not in charge of this ship, because today? Today we are in choppy waters. No threat of sinking...but yesterday we did take on some water. We hemmed and hawed and heaved buckets, circled up as a family, and chose a new course.

Today I'm trusting that the God of the universe has His hand in all of the messy as well as the beautiful in all of our lives. I'm not sure what the next step is, but I am willing to do the footwork.

For me, today, that's what belief and faith look like...taking that first step.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Living Big

My friend, Sara, lived life loud.

Her voice was heard far and wide.

She had weight in this world.

She was...





Sara lived  in such a way that she will be carried, in speech and heart, forever by those who followed her blog and walked beside her in life.

On Sunday, after an afternoon spent tossing leaves and smiling for the camera, I tuned in to the internet campus of Crosspoint church. I spent some time in worship that was out of this world phenomenal. I had a box of tissues at the ready in case my heart came out through my eyes. 

It did

Blake spoke of happiness, of joy, and of the difference between the two. It was the same talk we'd had with our girls that very morning. Sigh.

He stated it was a choice, this joy choosing.

My sentiments exactly

The sermon was thought provoking and challenging and incredibly well done.

Just like one of my favorite people who no longer treads ground down here

A few months ago, she and I would've gone to this service together, which we sometimes did on Sunday nights when the chicks didn't need me for anything. We'd sit and watch together and pretend we were side by side, then discuss what we'd learned and felt and heard.

Two nights ago? 
I'm sure we were.

To link to the sermon, notes, or audio, click here...

Or, if you'd prefer, just hit play below...

I love you, sweet friend. Thanks for living in such a way that HE was visible in you...

Monday, November 7, 2011

Action Verbing

Courtesy of the fabulous Abby at Me.Photography

A Whirlwind Weekend:

Dance practicing

Shrub trimming

Lazy Susan transplanting

Worm playing

Mud covering

Football yelling

Extra sleeping

Pew sitting

Mercy learning

Hair curling

Outfit finding

Shutter Clicking

Look sharing

Heart smiling

Hand holding


Internet churching

Tears falling

Memories circling

Joy choosing

Good nighting

Sweet snuggling

Whispered praying

Eyes shutting

.   .   .   .

That's what our weekend looked like...What happened in yours?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Five Minute Friday: Remember

Today I'm linking up with The Gypsy Mama and trying out her five minute Friday. For five minutes I'll write, unscripted and unedited.  Today's topic? Remember.  

Ready, set....Go.


I can't remember what it's like to live not feeling every joint I've been given.

The joke around the nest is that I still have all of my original parts.

Every single one, even when I feel that they need a lube and oil.

I'm grateful.

The chicks mouths gaped in awe on on an evening not too long ago as I told stories they probably thought they were fairy tales about...


Playing soccer year round

Running miles, long and hard, the breath coming from the deep and the exhilaration filling all parts of me


...twirling in shoes pink and soft, feeling beautiful.

...long hours on the field in all weather, on and off for over a decade.

... how it felt when my feet barely touched the soil and I was lost to everything except the thoughts churning in my head.  Miles logged daily to compete with the man who would someday be daddy to the blue eyed girls sitting rapt before me.

...the way the sun kissed the top of my head and the fluid motion I was able to continue as I pulled off a fleece to cool my too warm body.

...freedom.  In every step, as my legs worked as God intended in a rhythm which caused my heart to soar.

...when it all ended and the shoes went back on the shelf, to be used only for gardening and looking the part.

.   .   .   .

I remember, but I do not regret.  

My thankful outweighs the heavy of the memory.

I finish up the story, laughing with my babes at how different life is now.

More purposeful

Grateful for the remembering of fall days spent flying...

If only for a little while.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


"Something about the sunrise 
reminds me of your 
-Ten Shekel Shirt

I awoke to the dark

Lying in silence, thoughts swirled

Music filled my head

The lyrics a balm to my soul

Praising in the darkness

Praising from the shadows

Praising because I can

I should

I will

Rising and dressing, tiptoeing down the stairs

Phone in hand

Greeted by this





"From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the Lord's name is to be praised." 
-Psalm 113:3

Swirling in my brain? Ocean by Ten Shekel Shirt

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Years Pass...

This morning I got lost in the remembering...

Instead of bustling through my schedule and checking things off the to-do list, I paused and looked over my shoulder

Carving with my Dad (I was 12 days short of 5 years)

Belle 2004

October 2005

2006 Cinderella and a tired trick-or-treater

Fern and my little pumpkin 2007 (yes,  we got mileage out of the pumpkin)

First Year in TN  2008

Oct 31, 2009 Disney for Daddy's work conference

Glamour Girl and Pebbles October 31, 2010
Little Witch (Professor Petite) 2011

As I was perusing the Halloween shots, I came across this one, taken seven years ago today...

November 1, 2004

Seven years ago...

My girls were four and the all important half and almost three months ... I thought I'd never sleep again and wondered how I was going to shop for Christmas with two little people. I recall making dinner and thinking  it was strangely quiet...too quiet. I peaked my head around the doorway from the kitchen to the main room and found them like this.  I remember it like it was yesterday. Sigh. Little all secure on her sister's lap and big fully in charge of the situation. 

We lived in a grad school shoe box townhouse on a large university campus where, on any given autumn Saturday, we listened for the roar of the stadium if the windows were thrown open. We owned one car, didn't have a dog, and the man was serving in the reserves while working on a PhD full time. It was busy. Chaotic. Challenging. Amazing.

November 1, 2011

Today the man has the degree, we're living in the south, we have a home and a dog. We still cheer for the same team and the chicks still love being together. It's busy. Chaotic. Challenging. Amazing.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Burrs In Her Hair

She walked out bundled, braided, carrying a peanut butter sandwich and applesauce just in case she did not prefer the dinner available at the farm.

One quick kiss, a reminder to stay with the group as they explored the maze.

A bus ride of over an hour...on the big yellow tank she used to take to and from school each day before we made the move to homeschooling.  Her exclamation priceless as she was dropped off, "Look! Number 227...I rode it every day. What are the odds?"

Flutters in my stomach as I let her fly

Random texts arrived throughout the hours she was away with sparse details. The lack of communication showing, more than anything else, that fellowship and laughter were plentiful in the dark, crisp see your breath air of this  late October nigh.

Time alone with my little, rare in years past, is becoming plentiful. My grace girl is growing up.

A text that the bus is exiting the freeway her little sister long since put to bed and the man, just home from Spain, heads to pick her up.

I waited in the rocker, trying to appear nonchalant about her arrival back in the nest, failing miserably.

The grinding of the garage door signaled her homecoming. She bustled in, face rosy from the cold and aglow with the excitement of her adventure.

Her dialogue almost too fast to follow, she told tales of ...

lads wearing shorts

fried Oreos

a hayride where she thought she'd freeze

how someone jumped on the table and of her sandwich falling in the dirt

the corn maze where her group finished first 

one black widow spider on her pumpkin,then her subsequent scream and toss of it

a bus ride home, full of rowdy and chaos and pure fun

I sat, listening, taking in her tone and all that's unspoken about the growing up that went on tonight.
Gently I brushed her locks, removing burrs caught when boys jumped from behind stalks to scare her...treasuring the sweet smell of hay coming off of her head as she recounted her night.  She grabbed a snack and headed to bed after kissing us, her feet on the stairs quiet as not to wake our little.

She's growing up

This morning, she woke, full of stories and smiles and laughter in the remembering of details.

With a rapt audience she related her experiences...

Listening again, I took it all in...

Capturing them as my heart does...Flannel clad with earnest eyes and a knowing smile, the best of friends never missing a detail in the other's life. The sweetness of sisters, growing up together.

.    .   .

Cherishing the moments

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cultivating Gratitude

We're big HUGE believers in giving thanks.

Showing gratitude in both word and deed.

In our home we pen thank you notes up the wazoo (I'm quite sure it's a lost art form at this point).

At dinner, we tell one amazing thing that happened in our day and describe why we're thankful for it.

We carry lunch sacks of food in the car to hand out to the homeless we encounter at stoplights.  You can man did when he first heard about it...

We regularly donate to food pantries and rescue ministries.

When we pray? We start with our thanks and then move on to the other things...

However, I've found one of the best ways to teach the girls gratitude in giving is in the sponsorship of  Compassion children.  We write letters, send birthday and Christmas gifts, and sponsor monthly. Our chicks love hearing about the lives they touch on the other side of the globe. Our hearts, as parents, melt when  they suggest purchasing goats and chickens as gifts. Smile.  

We're trying to teach them that it is both a choice and a responsibility to give. We desire that the gratitude they feel for what we've been given will pour our and bless others, near and far.  We hope to demonstrate by example that it is far better to give than to receive.

How do you cultivate gratitude in your heart and home? We do it with compassion...for each other and for those we've yet to meet, with a heart of thanksgiving.

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Finding Her

Today, I felt her everywhere but could find her nowhere.

So, I did something I've neglected to do for well over a month...I grabbed my phone and
headed outdoors, a daily occurrence when she was alive.

I heard her in the crisp fall leaves beneath our feet

I saw her reach in the arms of my eldest, flung heavenward with 
face upturned to the sunlight

She was there in the solitary leaf gently drifting from the 
pile, unconcerned with remaining in the neat bundle
of all the others....

She was exuberantly present in this grin and in the joyous
release of leaves as they flew high and fluttered down slowly 
in the warm fall air...

I'm quite sure I felt her here as I gazed out
into the quiet of the backyard as the sun began 
to set behind one of her favorite trees...
(note the sparkle in the grass which only appeared via the shot)

So, I looked with my heart and I found her everywhere....

In the beauty present, all around me, that my eyes were missing due to the veil of my grief

In everything we enjoyed together, from the sound of crunching leaves to the
feeling of sunshine warming our hair

In the making of freckles on skin paled by days spent inside

In the taking time to capture the moment, as I would have, if we were doing life
together as we so often did

In the laughter of my dancing girl as she looked skyward and suddenly said, "Oh, Aunt Sara would
adore a day such as this...the smell of fall, the blue of the sky, the crispy leaves....remember

In the breaking of my heart in her remembering

In allowing myself to do something that was like breathing when it came to her, I found her. Shutter clicking in capturing moments, something we did seamlessly together, I felt a small piece of the empty fill, if only for a second

I saw Him, too...

In His knitting of our hearts, in His presence never leaving me as I lost her, in the friends I've found because of her, in the beauty of His creation that I'll never take for granted again because I've seen it through her eyes...


Tonight, as the sun sets, I am choosing to give thanks in all things and for all things...even in the pain and the dark and hard.  In the messy of my heart, I choose Him...and I choose to remember and hold on to the memory that is now her.