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...

strength

growth

sorrows

laughter

upheaval 

peace

joy

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.  


UGH.


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

Puddles

When life gives you puddles...


Grab a partner in crime

Take a leap
Hold on tightly

Laugh with abandon
Rest

Make a big splash
Empty your boots

Begin afresh

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Unexpected

;
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
.   .   .   .   .   
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.

Faith.

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...

beautiful

loved

cherished

spirit-filled


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

Kissing

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.


REMEMBER


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...

Dancing


Playing soccer year round


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


Remembering...


...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.

Slower
Quieter
More purposeful


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

If only for a little while.






Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sunrise



"Something about the sunrise 
reminds me of your 
faithfulness..."
-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

Coincidence?

Never.

Gratitude?

Always.


"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.