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 laugh...my 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
when...."

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.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pearl Buttons

She knows how to stand, both feet firmly planted on the floor, without the slightest movement.

A picture of stillness, so rare in someone her age.

My girl, the one who twirls everywhere, never skips a beat when I ask her to grind to a halt.

Patient


Sweet


Understanding

She knows the quiet concentration required; statuesque she remains.

My internal dialogue is awash with frustrated tones, pursed lips, hints of anger, and an occasional word that I'd never speak out of my head crossing my brain....pure frustration for her that at seven she's prohibited from bounding around as I try to catch the back of her frock, a normal  for most.

Our eyes lock in the mirror, and she smiles gently at me. She asks, "Would you like me to find something different this morning? I can always change this afternoon...." Her baby blues showing empathy as she holds my gaze.

Sigh


"No, I'm almost there, only two left...", my words trailing off as I once again tackle the task at hand.

So she stands. Perfectly still. In silence.

Hearing me take a deep breath and exhale, she knows I'm done. Immediately she spins, the skirt lifting airily as she beams in my direction and says joyously, "YOU did it!" 


I look her squarely in the eye, reminding her it was a joint effort and I couldn't have done it without her.
buttons down her back
.      .     .

Today I'm thankful for pearl discs that fit into minuscule holes, baby blue eyes, and for my girl who possesses unending patience and a beautiful heart.



Monday, October 24, 2011

Remembering the Now

Overheard in the nest ...

"If I was a sewing machine manual, where would I be?"

"That seriously sounded a whole lot like Jonathan Edwards..."

"I think he was drunk. That's the only thing that could explain it."

"Get out of the toilet! Toilets are NOT for drinking out of...Now she smells like a toilet!" (in reference to the dog)

"She's better than I am at piano...even if I practiced as much as she does there's really no way I'd be that skilled. But I don't care if I'm amazing at piano, so it doesn't really matter."

"Mama, I really appreciate you sewing my antlers for me."

"What does the ___word mean?"  My response: "Where did you hear THAT?"

"How many people does it take to sew a comb on a headband? Two...especially when the Mom's hands don't work and the wearer has to hold the elastic while said mother sews with both hands. Two people. Four hands. Pitiful."

"Do you think they'll realize we're using a bra strap as a chin attachment?"

"How about we both sleep with you? We'll lay on each side of you and we promise not to move..."

"I felt such a peace, Mama. I knew that there was no more pain. I felt it during church before you told me."

"You found her. Thank you for finding her."

"Daddy said WHAT? He showered in the dark because you have to use your room card to turn the lights on in the walls of the hotel? Where is he? What kind of establishment is he sleeping in?"
.    .    .    .

I love the chicks.

I'm thankful for their expressive nature, their intelligence, their sarcasm. I don't want to forget them at these ages and stages.

They grow quickly, they change so; The big goes from independent and knowledgeable to needing reassurance in a heartbeat. My little, full of life and so purposeful with her words. I want to capture them here forever. I want to...

Squish them down


Stop them from growing up.

I can't.  I shouldn't. I know that it's impossible. My head knows it. My heart works toward it.

Today, something is different. Today I hear, "Remember to treasure them. Love them with all you have. Give them the patience you don't feel. Listen to their words. Look into their eyes. See their hearts."

Today I look to savor their hearts.

I listen to their words.

I capture them, enjoying them in this moment.

I hug them longer, tighter, with more purpose as I snuggle them underneath their covers.

Choosing to remember the now with gratitude, I kiss them goodnight, knowing that tomorrow is another day to cherish.


Thankful for our tomorrows...


For antlers to sew


For Largo on the  piano


For great literature and thoughtful conversation


For small hands that still reach for mine as we cross a street...


For the gift of seeing life through their eyes.





Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Rain

"Thanks for showing me that even on the darkest, rainiest days 
the sun is still there, just behind the clouds, waiting
to shine again."  -Lisa Harlow 

It's dark and rainy here in our neck of the woods. It was lovely yesterday...glorious actually. The sun shone and the sky was the most beautiful shade of cerulean with the thermometer reading well over eighty degrees. Tonight? It's in the forties and the chicks are asking me to purchase their winter coats. Yesterday we wore shorts. Today it was cozy grey sweats. 

Ah, change...I feel it with every part of me. My body told me the mercury had dropped in the wee hours of the morning, as my sweet husband whispered, "Are you sure you want to go exercise?" I half groaned in the affirmative, planted my feet on the floor, and propelled myself forward knowing that my time on the machine would be longer than usual to combat the gloomy skies. My heart feels it, as it's now been over a month since my sweet friend Sara went radio silent. My mind is buzzing with school and dance schedules as well as the dread that comes when the man travels out of the country if only for a bit over a week

Change

Isn't is amazing how quickly it comes about? How, in the blink of an eye, our lives seem to spin as if on a dime and we're headed in a completely new direction? Honestly, it's the speed of change that seems to throw me for a loop. 

When that dime spins, I choose to remember I am not alone. I have my chicks, whose laughter holds echoes of sweet promises yet to be and whose eyes shine and sparkle and look to me to make the most of every second we are together. There are friends with hearts as wide as the day is long, and a husband who chooses to come home to me every day no matter what. I recognize the awe in all of this. I am thankful.

Choice


Today I chose to stand in the rain. Willingly. I allowed it to drip softly upon my upturned face. I stood in the stillness and listened for the song that is created when a force of nature collides with man made things. The drip and plop and splash as water hit the windows and gutters and roof. With eyes closed and face upturned, I took it in with all of me. Allowing myself to feel, to experience, to cherish this storm. Knowing that although I may end up a bit soggy, I'd be better for it, both literally and figuratively. 

Tomorrow 

Tomorrow I trust that the sun will shine, with all her glory, when I least expect it.

Tonight

I'm thankful for rain that renews, darkness which helps me search out the light, and for the glorious orb in the heavens, reflected tonight in the light of the moon..


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Response

I'm reveling in the quiet of this morning.

In the stillness of the world awakening, I'm taking the time to breathe in the beauty of what today may become.

May become


A big part of how my today unfolds will rest largely on my response to her events. Am I greeting her willingly, with open arms and a ready heart?

I am


Because He IS



Share photos on twitter with Twitpic
The way the sky appears when lying beneath trees;
I heartily recommend taking the time to notice details from a new perspective...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Modification

Modification (n.)

1. The action of modifying something.
2. A change made.
3. A small alteration, adjustment, or limitation.

I've been making a myriad of modifications around the nest lately, such as changing out shorts for cozy cable knits, switching lemony linen throw pillows for cream sherpa fleece, and altering my ever-too-long pant collection.

Changing
Switching
Altering

Three words that are synonymous with the concept of change and are found in the definition of modification.
I've spent most of my life coping with Senor Change, and my letter to him would read something like this:

Dear  Sir Change,

I see you've decided to visit me again. I guess you've failed to recall that we are not bosom buddies. I don't care for you. I wish you'd leave. You make me feel all sorts of upset inside. Remember when I was young and you caused such enormous upheaval in my life? I do. I also recall you wreaking havoc on my teens.  And my twenties. Not cool. Oh, and this decade? You've visited far too often. Please go away.  I don't desire to be stretched, changed, altered, modified, or further limited.  

Most Sincerely, 

Shannon

p.s. If you see your friend, Status Quo, I'd be happy to meet her, seeing as she's never been a part of my life and I'm quite sure no one has introduced us yet.  Just sayin'...

I know that modification is a necessary part of life. I realize it helps me grow. I know that most of it comes from Him and I'm thankful for it. I just sometimes wish that the flow of change wasn't so constant. I want to hit pause.

I don't desire for my days to quit changing. I enjoy the newness of each morning. I usually greet it willingly. I do. Honest engine.I just hope at some point to get my feet underneath me before something else comes my way. I'm seeking out time to breathe. It would be lovely if one thing would stop fusing before another started and if I could figure out a way to get more rest so I was more capable of dealing with everything going on in my world and I could learn to be a bit more careful and gentle with myself, as I am my own harshest critic.

That said, I decided to start small...in my moments and in the choice of response. I've learned about embracing change and adjusting my attitude to do the same. Being thankful for what I'm learning as it occurs, not as an afterthought. Seeking out the beauty.  

For the gratitude I need to express in order to change my heart? It's there..it's in the choosing.

"This one step--choosing and sticking to it--it changes everything."
-Reed

Needing Alteration:
I schooled, seam ripped, and
worked on adjusting...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Noticing

I feel like most parts of my life are simply fluff lately...have you been there? That so much of it is just background noise trying to distract me from the big stuff.

I want to notice the big stuff


Stuff is a poor word choice, but stuff it is...what keeps us busy and what we're reaching for and what we do all day?  It's mostly just stuff.

But what I'm missing? It's the true blue in the sky and the way  eyes crinkle just before all of the happy pours out. Not perceiving it almost causes pain.

I've taken less time this month to discover the world around me. I miss that feeling, the one that comes with the cherishing of the moment.  You know it, right? The anticipation of something and then the complete calm that comes with the joy of the experience?

This morning, I figured it out...  I'm seeing everything as I normally would... It's all in my response to the world.  It's in the noticing.

Taking notice


Taking the time to experience. Sharing it with those around us...doing life together.

Together


It's the way it should be done. Side by side, sharing burdens and blessings.

Won't you join me? I would love to do life together with you here.

"A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in times of need."
Proverbs 17:17 NLT

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Comments Anyone?

Hi Friends,

I've switched up the comments to Disqus in an effort to answer you all more quickly.  Blogger was good enough to save the originals. Yet, for the life of me, I've yet to figure out how to answer them from the dashboard.

Sigh.


With all of that said, is there anything special you'd like to see here on the blog that I can tweak with design? I would like to make this more user friendly for you, so comments are appreciated and will be taken under advisement.

Oh, and for someone who is tech savy, could you tell me how to post a blog to twitter so it shows up as a bit  or something of the like? My skills lie in teaching intranstive verb forms and trichotomy these days (for our 7th grader) along with latin and long division (for our sweet 3rd grader). The joys of homeschooling are that you recall the learning of your youth without moving forward into tech savy-ness.

Off to finish piano theory with my little...we're studying transposition!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Keeping On...

This morning it took all I had to slip from beneath the warm, cozy blanket and pull on my worn track shorts and tank.

It was dark. Cold. Rainy. The digits were closer to six than seven. Way too early.


I didn't want to go. But I did it anyway because that's what I do. I stick to the plan, follow the rules, stay on task.  No matter what.


I'm disciplined. I'm not saying this in a proud or haughty manner, just as a matter-of-fact. It's a part of who I am. A friend used to tease me that I should have remained Catholic, because I am great at making something ritual.

So, I get up. I put one foot in front of the other, and I keep on keeping on.

I want to nestle back under the covers. I want to spend the day in the abyss that is my heart.

That's not life. Not mine anyway. I homeschool, exercise, study the Word, and do a massive amount of driving to the chicks' activities. I pay bills, manage the household, clean from top to bottom, and make sure all are fed. I care for everyone. There's not time for me in my day. I need to find moments.


Please don't take these words as a complaint. I am beyond thankful for our home, our girls, my life. I am grateful I am capable of maintaining my current speed and course. I know it could all change in an instant.  But today? Today I am tired. I ache. I am lonely. I desire to hibernate, and my cave sharing buddy is gone.

So, I take a deep breath, open my bible, and lean on these words:

"Come to me, all who are tired and weary, and I will give you rest."
Matthew 11:28


I choose to rest on His promise today. I choose to let Him minister to my heart. I will seek Him when I feel the crazy of life creeping it. He calls me to it.

In times like these, I see the benefits of being a "no matter what" girl.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Lonely Eyes

Today I took the time to gently lift her into my arms and sway around the kitchen.  Laying aside all of the I have to's  and instead looking her in the eyes and noticing the lonely.

Wondering if my eyes look the same

I stopped cleaning up dinner and unloading the dishwasher and pulling out the vitamin regiment for the 'morrow. I started listening to the quiet of her heart.  The place that was calling out for more of me in the regular moments.

Scrolling through the music on the phone, I found her song. The one I've sang to her since her NICU days. Choosing it carefully, pushing play, watching the wonder in her eyes. She did not realize it was on our devices.

Wonder replacing lonely


My little is still small enough to fit on my hip, even at seven. I tell her it's God's gift to me, being able to tote her when she gets tired or hurt or just plain lonely. Growing up isn't easy. Neither is being grown up. Knowing this, I hold her tighter and we glide around the island, cluttered with dishes to be put away. Not in this moment, though, for this moment? It's ours, hers and mine, with little arms wrapped around my neck and calves resting on my hips.

Together


I remember that she needs me in her moments, not the shell I feel I am this week. I remember how much I need Him in mine, and as we move I ask my God to give me wonder to replace the lonely. I assure Him I know that we're doing this together. I thank Him for these moments.

Ordinary


Sacred


OURS


Today, I give thanks for the moments.