Category Archives: embrace

Friendship Friday ~ Little Friend

Thanksgiving Day I wanted a picture of the Give Thanks garden flag for the blog. Pulling on boots and throwing on a coat, I ventured out the front door to be greeted by a little friend playing alone in the snow.

Hi, Mom! You can come outside and watch me play, her little voice invited.

I really, really just wanted to snap a picture of the garden flag and run right back inside to finish writing and posting. Why did this child have to disrupt my agenda with an invitation to watch her play?

Okay. Let me get my gloves.

I ran inside fighting the battle that rages inside of me every single day, which to some is so elementary, but to me is very complex. Do I want a life well-lived or a life well-blogged?

Living means engaging and engaging means accepting and accepting means going outside to watch my child play in the snow.

I returned outside, prepared to watch.

You COULD help me build a snowman. You COULD.

The emphasis placed on could means that I certainly do not have to, but in this child’s world it’s a pretty strong invitation. An invitation to play.

What is my word for this year that is almost over, again?

Embracing the invitation, I began rolling a body using fashionable gloves, obviously not meant to keep hands warm in wet snow. Part of me wanted to laugh as a blanket of snow rolled right up, revealing a clear path of grass. I imagined clearing the entire yard in one fell swoop.

Part of her wanted to laugh at the yellow patches of dirty snow. She imagined all of the ways snow becomes yellow.

We worked together to make a mother and baby.

snow mama and baby

We played in the snow. Together. Just me and my little friend.

Good Things

Let all that I am praise the Lord;
With my whole heart I will praise his holy name.
Let all that I am praise the Lord;
May I never forget the good things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins.
He heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things.
My youth is renewed like the eagles!
Psalm 103:1-5 (NLT)

May I never forget the good things.

It is easy to forget in the hard, when everything feels overwhelming and bad.

There are so many good things.

Forgiveness. Not just forgiveness but restoration of hope and of relationships.

He has restored my soul.

Healing. Not from a physical wound or disease but from a deep heart wound. It is a continual process of relapse and repair.

The Great Physician continues to meet me in my places of pain.

Redemption. Pulled back from the brink of certain soul death, God has called me to life in the present, not just the hope of the everlasting.

I have been invited to live fully.

Love. My life is crowned with so much love that, at times, my head aches with the weight of it all. Yet the lover of my soul continues to press and pursue me with the magnitude and depth of his care.

He offers me tender mercies each day.

Good things.

I listen to piano music being played, and my soul soars. The music happens just because there is a piano and just because it can be played. There is no agenda other than beauty.

I fill my belly with warm food prepared together with my husband. A son has requested breakfast burritos, so we lazily chop and brown and saute and sip coffee as we mull over the state of current events, and, more importantly, the current state of our hearts.

I steal off to my room and place of space when time around the table becomes too much to handle. My husband graciously resolves an episode of conflict surrounding episode pick as I read from Psalm 103 and ponder good things.

I accept that my dining room table has transformed to a ping-pong table and the chandelier has been raised to accommodate two brothers competing and instructing the youngest on ping-pong technique, while singing family folk songs. I hear this through my closed bedroom door, images filling my mind. Little sisters clamor to join and are welcomed with patient grace.

There is no Macy’s Day Parade on my TV, but there is a parade of music, words, memories, and people flooding my mind and filling my Facebook feed and texting my phone. There is the hope that one day Thanksgiving may look like what I long for and what has been in the past with parade watching and couch-cuddling and coffee drinking and sweet potato baking.

When it looks like that, it will no longer look like this.

And this is a good thing. I am thankful.

Friendship Friday ~ Sister Love

I have been looking forward to this post for weeks. Ever since I knew that I would get a weekend with my sister around the time of the birthday that she shares so close to Grammy, I couldn’t wait to write about our time together.

It was wonderful. We laughed and cried and laughed a lot more. I LOVE being with my sister. Time together is never enough.

We had girls’ night with Mom and Grammy.544918_10152404786648483_8394842046929499919_nWe slept over, sharing secrets and dreaming of the charms to wishlist for our Pandora bracelets.10423267_738567129546657_8644179348919524612_n She was at church for a special time, as her little namesake took membership vows to join. My friend, Kathleen, will appreciate that someone came up to me Sunday and said, Don’t tell me this is one of your children, too?! IMG_2437Um, no, this is my sister.1016931_10152510985273235_7636329918823508929_n Little Roo has a tender heart just like her auntie.IMG_2303I often find her reading her Bible in the morning. So precious. It was her idea to talk to the elders and join the church. It was so special to have Dave and Burress be the elders who came to talk with her. She was a newborn when we came to Covenant.

Back to sister time . . .

It was good for my heart to have someone who hears it so clearly, who understands shopping angst and is willing to enter the dressing room and body image chaos with me, who knows me and all of my shortcomings from wayback and chooses to love me anyway.

I love my sister. I am so grateful for the fleeting moments we had together last weekend.

It’s never enough. Time together is never enough and always a gift. It was an exercise in being able to embrace the moments that we did have.

I love you, D!!!!! Can’t wait until Christmas.

Fall on top of the Hoosier

The top of the Hoosier in the kitchen joins the house in the changing of seasons.

It holds the slate with my word on it, surrounded by sundries that border on clutter.

Last year fall looked like this. Changing like that $3 porch chair. Always changing. I love how a friend commented, I love how you change that porch chair with the seasons. Change is good and makes us vulnerable. Wise words.

fall hoosier 13

There are those yarn pumpkins! No slate. No copper anniversary tchotchkes.

Some things stay the same, like the fall mugs.

Coffee Corner

I’m drinking from mine as I type these words and prepare to enter the fray. It’s my favorite time of early morning, when I wish the day would freeze, but, alas, the clock ticks on and Monday looms large ahead of me.

Are those raindrops I hear?

Are those footsteps coming down the stairs?

It’s time for me to stop writing and start embracing what is to come today, remembering to Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the master you are serving is Christ. Colossians 3:23,24. Wise words.



Love Grows Here

It’s painted on the house number sign, made one date night years ago. I chose the house number sign, my luvvvah chose the butter dish.

Right now it’s propped on a chair outside of the side entrance due to the porch project this summer. The house number. The butter dish is broken in a drawer.

fall glory

That $3 chair from Gift and Thrift changes throughout the seasons. Right now, it embraces fall glory.

Here’s how it welcomed Spring.


Last year’s fall look is below. See the naked grapevine wreath? This year I dressed it up by stuffing random fake leaves and seed pods into it. Read all about it here. Sorry. There’s not a tutorial.


I’m trying to figure the point of this post other than to remind myself and others that change happens and can be good. I struggle with change.

Imagine that!

Working with what you have is fulfilling. Intentionally seeking out the broken and discarded to create beauty is meaningful. Trusting your instincts is freeing. Being content with what you have is priceless.

For me it’s a struggle.

All of the above.

I will continue the battle and fight forward to win.

I will continue to choose to cultivate love.

Friendship Friday ~ Embracing Words and Gifts

I want to give them back. As quickly as my heart fills with gratitude, I want to say, “No, please keep this, because I won’t be able to reciprocate well enough, and I will disappoint you with my friendship.”

This week a card came in the mail.

A real card from a real friend from far away.

We have only spent a week of real-life time together, but our hearts have connected through email, facebook, texts, and phonecalls since then. She is a precious gift who has encouraged me by her words and gifts across the miles, and this week was one of those times.

It’s been a hard week for my heart.

Another friend met me for coffee last Saturday morning. It was a finally getting coffee date after too many, We should get together sometime-s.

Sunday night she asked if I would be picking my son up from youth group, because she had something for me. I told her that someone would be, and I would be sure they connected with her.

Later that evening there was a tiny gift on the table with a little note. So thoughtful and perfect. I love tiny things. And coffee.

But immediately my heart felt overwhelmed by fear. Fear of not being good enough, thoughtful enough, the right kind of friend.

Which is not what receiving another’s friendship is about.

I am grateful for friends and for seasons and for thoughtfulness. Especially this week, as my heart has been struggling in so many ways, the reminders of love and care from those who struggle themselves mean so much and remind me that we are not alone.

I am not alone.

Thank you, Friends. ALL of you who reach out to others (not just me) when you struggle yourselves. That is a gift.

Happy Friday!!!

My Restful Porch

This morning Steve and I sat on the porch drinking coffee and eating Honey Nut Cheerios. There were a few moments of peace before a minivan passed.

Was that (insert name of band parent here)? Is there band today? Is our son awake?

Peace interruptus ensued as Steve ran inside and upstairs to wake teenage boy. A friend who drives pulled up, and we waved him along.

We’ll drive him in. He just woke up. Thanks!

Risky move there on our part. That usually means said teenager will come running out of the house, fully ready to leave, fully annoyed with us for taking matters into our own hands and cramping his style.

It worked. This time. Small graces.

We sat together a few minutes longer, waiting for our boy to be ready. A neighbor walked by with her dog.

I’ve been meaning to tell you how nice the porch looks! So relaxing and restful.

In that instant, I tried to view through those eyes, because, honestly, life has been neither relaxing nor restful, lately. Writing is my outlet, and you see how much of that has been happening!

Seasons are changing again.

Returning to the present, I realized that for a few more minutes, my luvvah and I could drink coffee and eat cereal before the rest of the day took over. That moment was both relaxing and restful, and I chose to embrace it.

Embrace. I remember that word!

Life-Giving Words

It always happens.

Just when I’m feeling discouraged, or aimless, and wondering if I should keep up with writing, God sends a word.

It comes to me in the form of a person. A person who offers life-giving words of affirmation. Someone who reads my words and encourages me with theirs.

This reminds me that if one person is encouraged or finds hope or realizes they are not alone in the struggle, it is worth it to keep going with the blog. To keep writing.

So thank you, Friends. You know who you are.

You are the one I don’t know who came up to me in church today to tell me that you read. The one during the craziness of VBS week who told me you were encouraged by a post. The one who texted when I was out of town, excited for me about this (go ahead, click on it and see what it is!) and who continues to encourage my heart.

There are many of you who offer life giving words, not just to me, but to those around you.

Guess what?

They matter.

Thank you.

Getting Gotten

It feels good to be gotten.

I experienced this last week when both grown-up girls gave me thoughtful gifts they had picked up on their adventures.

The first I found with a note left on the dining room table upon waking from a nap. Wedding recovery week/first week home with the kids for summer was a blur, and in the midst of this, daughter number two had stopped by. She didn’t wake me from slumber, but Jemima Puddle Duck was waiting for me when I awoke, picked up on one of her travels.


I added Jemima to my shelf of little things that go together randomly, because she belonged. My girl knew it would be meaningful. She gets me in all of my random quirkiness.

A few days later, my newlywed was home from her honeymoon trip. She brought an early birthday gift in the form of a small table to use outside in a corner of the yard. She knew I had been digging and planting back there, and that it was a nice place to get away and sit a bit.

I also like it in the corner of the kitchen where it resides currently. It’s a great place to rest a coffee mug or wine glass, depending on the time of day.

tiny table

I love my big girls. I love that they get me, or at least try to, and that in the midst of the getting, they give me much grace.

That is something for me to embrace.

Thanks, Girls. YOU are a gift. Love you much.


For My Mother

Her name is Caryn, and she likes birds. She is my mother.

I am the firstborn. She is, as well.

We are both left-handed.

We both have lots of children. She always says I win with eight. I think she forgets those she lost, and when we get to heaven, she will find that she is actually the winner.

Even though it’s not a contest, and I’m not trying to prove anything!

I remind her of that as often as possible.

It’s not a contest. 

I have not been a Hallmark daughter. Our relationship has been messy and complicated. We have grown.

So much so, that last year we took a trip together to Boston for Sisters and Mom week.

It was a pretty big deal, the two of us flying together.

It’s a pretty big deal that we live within walking distance of each other and spend time together and that my kids are close to their grandma.

A few months ago, one of my daughters made a list for me and asked that I post it on my blog. It is in that spirit that I offer one of my own. To my mother.

I love you, Mom. Here are 100 reasons why.

1. You breastfed me.
2. You read books to me and sang with me.
3. You took me out for coffee with your friends when I was little and let me drink out of the little creamer cup.
4. You let me play with little neighborhood friends, even when we didn’t live in the best neighborhood. You kept the front door (and your ears) open.
5. You taught me Bible verses.
6. You made up songs. (B-e-d, B-e-d, Bed, Bed, you need bed. You have ten miiiinutes….)
7. You sewed a doll with brown yarn hair and blue fabric eyes for me.
8. You sewed a bathrobe for me.
9. You played Memory with me.
10. You gardened.
11. You harvested.
12. You canned.
13. You connected with people around you.
14. You told stories with Lolly Elephant.
15. You taught Bible club when we lived in the apartment.
16. You used flannel graph.
17. You cooked meals for us every night.
18. You helped me make friends with Rene.
19. You noticed the tick on my hip when I was four.
20. You tried to limit red dye and cheese consumption for my greater good.
21. You participated in a food co-op that time.
22. You tried to be a sport about thrift stores.
23. You took us on road trips to Michigan.
24. You took me on outings with Janet and Nicole.
25. You let me cook.
26. You let me bake my own bakery-style birthday cakes.(haha!)
27. You let me invite Nicole over for birthday celebrations.
28. You coordinated the church nursery.
29. You made me a little orange and yellow playroom with organized toys.
30. You kept fighting the clutter monster, even when it threatened to take you down.
31. You made organizers from plastic milk jugs when you couldn’t afford store-bought ones.
32. You survived a remodel, addition, whatever that was, you survived it.
33. You exercised.
34. You wore exercise sandals.
35. You noticed that one of your many children had already gotten in the pool when they weren’t supposed to.
36. You took us to the pool.
37. Because you made friends with older people who had a pool and invited us to swim.
38. You have a heart for older people.
39. You made childbirth sound like an evening stroll in the park with a stop off at Bob Evans for breakfast on the way home, so I wasn’t fearful of childbirth. Oh. My. Thank you?
40. You wore stylish wrap around skirts.
41. You tried to teach me to sew.
42. You let me just figure it out.
43. Ok, so I can’t sew.
44. You got me a real chalkboard so that I could play school.
45. You let me set up a school room.
46. You took me to get my ears pierced.
47. You took me to get my hair cut.
48. You watched Growing Up and Liking It with me at school in 5th grade.
49. You sometimes forgot to plug in the crock pot, and we got to go out to eat instead of eating soupy chicken at home.
50. You invited people over.
51. You let me go to friends’ houses.
52. You bought me bras and underwear at JCPenney, because that’s just where you get those items.
53. You let me ride on the bus when you substitute drove Steve’s route.
54. You cared for animals.
55. You made real life connections back in the day when the internet was non-existent (at least in people’s homes), and mothering lots of kids at home was even more isolating than it can be today.
56. You survived living on a low income with a lot of children.
57. You always kept us fed and clothed.
58. You decorated a nursery for Greg on Nicholson St. complete with a chair rail.
59. You let me have it for my own room when he got bigger.
60. You let us hide our special toys in the attic so they wouldn’t get ruined when people came over.
61. You took us to the doctor.
62. You took us to the dentist.
63. You tried to do a frugal recycled birthday for one of our siblings by fixing up discarded toys. That had to have been so annoying when we all began to claim our stuff!
64. You tried to cut back on our sugar intake, even if it WAS on Easter and involved CAROB bunnies.
65. You hid real Easter eggs for us to find.
66. You got me hot chocolate from the hot drink machine at Giant, and were only slightly annoyed with me when I started splashing hot liquid everywhere and freaking out.
67. You were frugal before there were websites to teach you how, even though you weren’t fond of frugality.
68. You took me shopping for fabric with Nicole to make our 4th grade pillows.
69. Sunshine Family Dolls. Enough said.
70. You were calm when we were flashed while coming out of Giant that time. “That man doesn’t have any PANTS on.” Oh my. Thankfully, it was only the backside, and he ran off quickly.
71. You didn’t act too annoyed on long car rides to Michigan when the backback was down, and the kids were sleeping, and my chin was propped on the seat back between you and Dad just hanging out.
72. You let me pack boxes of magazines for the infamous move while leaving behind your dining room chairs.
73. You planned a wedding for me during a season of huge transition.
74. You drove to see me after my first baby was born, and you lived hundreds of miles away, and your baby was only 4.
75. You still buy me groceries and treats sometimes “just because.”
76. You cook amazing meals.
77. You host family gatherings.
78. You hear hard things.
79. You continue to learn and grow.
80. You come hear me when I sing on worship team.
81. You spend time with my children.
82. You step out of your comfort zone.
83. You care for people.
84. You help with piano run.
85. You help with last-minute sick grandkids.
86. You baked Christmas cookies with the little girls.
87. You make memories.
88. You took me to the banquet.
89. You attend choir concerts and recitals.
90. You drive to Michigan to spend time with YOUR family.
91. You read books.
92. You learn new technology.
93. You remain curious.
94. You go to lunch with your friends.
95. You taught me to make the best chocolate chip cookies.
96. You fly places now.
97. You stay young.
98. You love your husband.
99. You love your children and their families.
100. You gave me space to risk in our relationship, and you didn’t run.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! I love you!!!!!