Tag Archives: gift

Bloom

Discovering the bloom was surprising.

Why am I surprised, again?

God continues to surprise and amaze me along this stretch of the journey, and I continue to struggle to believe the goodness is real and really for me. He shows me that he sees me and is here for me in the bigness and chaos with just what I need, and I wonder about next time.

Will you still see me then, Father? Next time?

The bloom in front of me whispers this time. Grace for today.

It came on the day that I finished a big story for this session in Seattle. This weekend we delve into sexuality. I tiptoed in last year via Red Tent. It’s time to go deeper.

I could have missed this tiny bloom completely, but I didn’t. The pink flower adorning the leggy growth propped by the plant stand called to me as I passed by, stopped, and marveled.

Steve, look at this!

So many things spoke to me through this little pink flower. I immediately texted the giver of the transplanted-from-broken-small-shoots in a little pot to tell her. I had transplanted the growth to a larger floor pot. It’s the one to the right of the stand in the picture. It took off wildly. Like my life.

So there it is. The bloom. The special sign to me that I am seen, it is time, and all will be well. At the end of the growth will come the flower.

But first, the terror of being dumped out and re-potted. First the mess.

In the Box

This past week was a dear friend’s birthday. We share the same birth month, and several weeks ago went for coffee together. She gave me a card with a gift card to the coffee shop that we often frequent. She also gave me a box.

The box was significant and special, because it was handmade by her. What was inside the box was even more significant, especially at this time in my life.

While reading and preparing for my certificate work this coming school year, much is made about memory and story and processing and trauma. This month was all about the reading. Next month comes the first writing assignment.

Stirring around inside are memories to be curious about and stories to process. Launching another big while continuing to parent four littles middles stirs different feelings now that there are no more babies. I see more of myself in the life stages of my five girls ~ wherever they are.

And also my three boys.

With that background, I was curious about the box. I opened it to reveal this. . .

inside the box

Can you guess the significance? Anyone? Need another clue?

Sunshine Family

It’s the Sunshine Family!

She passed her childhood set along to me for safe-keeping, knowing my love for the dolls and their place in my story.

Playing with Sunshine Family dolls is a HUGE childhood memory. This was my alternative to playing with Barbies ~ modestly proportioned, flat-footed mom, solid, hard-working dad, baby, and even a big sister in one of the sets, this family provided me hours of creative fun.

I only remember having the dolls and some of the baby accessories. Mine were yellow ~ cradle, bathtub, high chair. There was even a tiny bottle. I don’t think I had any of the store-bought big accessories, but that certainly didn’t stop me from creating multi-level houses out of cardboard boxes, filled with hand-crafted furniture.

My dolls had yellow shoes. It’s funny the memories that stick.

Among my Sunshine Family memories are the pantry shelves that my mom created out of a Velveeta box, cardboard squares, and tape. The dining room table was cut from the bottom of a plastic gallon milk jug with chairs made from paper cups. One was turned upside-down, the other cut in half. The bottoms were glued or taped together, forming a chair with a back. Fancy.

Plates were the flat tops of milk jugs, cups were toothpaste caps, and baskets were egg carton sections cut and woven with yarn. The humble shoebox was a treasure trove of possibilities, most obviously, a bed, but also a closet or stove or counter.

To this day, my sister and I have an inside joke where we say, “It can be a bed, or a dresser, or a table, etc. . .” whenever we see something with multifunctional potential.

In my mind, I spent hours armed with fabric and scissors and wallpaper samples, creating and designing beautifully furnished housing for my dolls. I remember learning a pattern for a tiny bonnet for baby and diapers, as well.

This Pinterest board stirred lots of memories and maybe a feeling or two.

I know that my sister played Sunshine Family with me, and I think some friends did, as well. Did any of you play with or remember these dolls from the 70’s? Did any of your children play with them? I am curious and curiouser!

What about you, Dear Readers? What are some of YOUR significant memories of play? Do share in the comments!

 

 

Restoring the Swing

This year’s word, Restore, has proven itself surprising in many ways.

One such way happened on Mother’s Day, but not really. Mother’s Day was the culmination of the restoration. It took awhile to process all of the feelings that swirled inside of me that day. After some time and a little bit of quiet, I am able to write.

Last September there was a post titled Seasonal Ritual where I detailed the return to the basement of the porch swing and my feelings about the whole thing. Not long after, I received a message from a dear friend asking about the swing.

She read the post and, having given birth recently and living in the country where there was a porch without a swing and having a baby who needed lots of movement, wondered if she and her husband could pick up mine to borrow for a season if they returned it painted.

I was more than happy to oblige, and my son kindly catered to a request that once again he bring the swing up from the basement to the porch. Soon after, it was gone. I was glad that it was being used and thought no more about it.

Recently, while catching up, my friend noted that her family was moving and that they would no longer need the swing. Sometime it would be returned to my porch. I assured her there was no rush and, again, thought no more about it.

This is what made for quite a surprise when Mother’s Day afternoon found me returning home from planting the planter to finding a painted swing sitting on the porch. There was a thank you note with the swing and the following comment on the blog:

We dropped off your porch swing this afternoon (this is me letting you know, so that in case somehow it isn’t there, we can sort it out!). I noticed the reno, but I also noticed the chair by the door, the beautiful house number plaque, the lantern, and all the pretty flowers growing around the house. I had been having a “wait oh no what if this is the wrong house” moment, until I saw those things–and then I thought, “Nope, this is Julie’s house.” Because of all the beauty in the midst of the mess. Because of all the ways I can see that you intentionally took time to create loveliness, even though it’s not all perfect. Keep up the good work, friend! 🙂 Thanks again for the swing; it provided this new and growing momma with many breathers.

Tears began to flow which morphed into sobs as I read her words affirming all that I was feeling insecure about with regards to my house and all that is unfinished and messy. The fact that the swing returned to me on Mother’s Day was also significant, and my heart opened to the magnitude of that gift.

The following weekend, my luvvah made a trip to Lowes for supplies and hung the swing for me. I love it.

porch swing

So do the kids.

porch swing

And things are still not perfect on the porch.

Roo on swing

But there is beauty.

Mother’s Day Planter 2016

Each year for the past several I have filled my mom’s outdoor planter for Mother’s Day. Here is this year’s planting process and result.

I cleared all of the old growth and dead leaves, including two snapdragon volunteers from last year, out of the pot.

I cleared all of the old growth and dead leaves, including two snapdragon volunteers from last year, out of the pot.

I planted a tall spikey plant in the middle for height.

I planted a tall spikey plant in the middle for height.

Three red geraniums were planted around the spike.

Three red geraniums were planted around the spike.

The two yellow snapdragons were returned to the pot. We shall see how they do!

The two yellow snapdragons were returned to the pot. We shall see how they do!

Two trailing plants with blue flowers were placed on each side of the pot to spill over the edges as they grow.

Two trailing plants with blue flowers were placed on each side of the pot to spill over the edges as they grow.

Some trailing ivy and vines were placed around the edges to grow and spill over the side of the pot.

Some trailing ivy and vines were placed around the edges to grow and spill over the side of the pot.

A small surprise from last year was re-placed in the midst of the plants with the reminder to bloom.

A small surprise from last year was re-placed in the midst of the plants with the reminder to bloom.

This is the view from above.

This is the view from above.

It is always fun to choose plants each year, to design the arrangement, and to watch the flowers bloom and grow all season.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! You are one-of-a-kind, and I love you so much.

Moving Forward

I continue to be amazed by how this year has not looked like I anticipated back as the end of 2015 rolled around, and I began pondering what 2016 might be. God is surprising that way.

One of the biggest things I am learning is to just keep moving forward and through it. I am learning to continue to trust the process when it appears in surprising forms.

Last week I typed a quick update about the next step I was taking with the Lay Counseling Certificate, that of acceptance, and was blown away by the number of views on the blog and words of encouragement through text and facebook likes from so many.

It has been that way since.

When Angela launched the Go Fund Me site, she set $8,000 as the target goal, which felt so high to me. She reminded me that in addition to tuition, there were plane tickets ~ which she had researched ~ and travel expenses for four trips. I felt grateful for an objective friend who could help me count the cost ~ literally.

Four days after the fundraising site launched, I was able to ask Angela to adjust the goal from $8,000 to $6,950 to reflect money that has come in in both on and offline, as well as an early registration scholarship that I received. Already I am seeing provision for this road ahead.

I continue to move forward.

I will continue to ask Angela to adjust the fundraising page to reflect the actual amount still needed and to update the blog with ways that funding has been supplied. There are stories behind stories and so many connections that the process can feel overwhelming ~ in a good way. Good overwhelming is still overwhelming.

Thank you for walking with me, Friends, and for encouraging me through this process. I am already learning and growing, and it’s only the beginning.

Up and Running

Update: The Go Fund Me campaign is no longer active, but donations are still being accepted should you wish to contribute. Feel free to contact me below for more information.

She did it. The fund-raising site is launched and up and running.

My friend, Angela, set up a Go Fund Me page to raise funds for the certificate program that I am pursuing. I have applied and been accepted and am committed to going this fall.

Now the arranging happens.

Seeing a large picture of my face pop up in my facebook feed was more than a little disconcerting and overwhelming. There are lots of feelings swirling, but mostly I feel humbled after seeing Angela’s work on the site and reading the words that others wrote as testimonials.

Please check out the page here to read more about what I am already doing/have done and consider contributing to the cause, if you wish. Any amount, large or small, including the investment of prayer for the journey ahead is most welcomed.

I am fully confident in God’s provision for the task that I have been given. I know that he has been faithful and will continue to be. This is the biggest jolt from my comfort zone, yet.

One of the unique aspects of this program is the in-person, group work that is done to better equip participants to sit with others in-person. To do that, one must be physically present. In-person. To be in-person means I must travel from east coast to west. To travel costs money, and though I plan to do all I can to keep costs low, I appreciate having a friend who is helping me to count the cost realistically.

I am committed to using any funds raised solely for this purpose and for furthering my education in the area of counseling, as I firmly believe that this is the chapter that is beginning to open for me on the edge of my next season.

Thank you to all who have encouraged, been curious with, cheered me on, walked alongside, allowed me to walk alongside, or just clicked around on the blog. However you have arrived, I consider your presence in my life a gift.

Be Blessed, Friends!

This is half of the inside of a card created for me by Angela in fall'15 to encourage me to pursue the Lay Counseling Certificate.

This is half of the inside of a card created by Angela in fall ’15 to encourage me to pursue the Lay Counseling Certificate. The other half was full of words of encouragement meant just for me.

 

 

Sometimes You Start with the Cake

My husband celebrates his birthday on January 10, a day that comes on the heels of a big season of celebrating ~ Christmas, New Year’s Eve, our Anniversary. It arrives before the tiniest bit of breathing room, and we celebrate two of our children at the end of the month.

He has always been gracious and low-maintenance about his day. His only request is the cake. It is a chocolate layer cake with three textures ~ cake layers, mousse middle, and ganache frosting. It is divine.

This year, with all of the busyness, he said, You don’t have to make the cake. I will just pick out a cake at Costco.

Now Costco has wonderful cakes, but I wrestled with the fact that the cake is one of the few special things I do for his birthday, and I really wanted to bake it, as always. I made up my mind to just do it.

Mixing up the wet ingredients, then the dry ones to add to the batter, I realized that I had measured the wrong amount of salt. I haven’t baked for awhile! was running through my head.

Dumping the dry ingredients into the trash, I measured again, carefully this time, and continued with the recipe. I poured beautiful batter into greased and lined pans. They baked while I began the mousse filling.

Pulling the pans from the oven, my first thought was, I don’t remember the layers looking so flat, but there are a lot of things I don’t remember that turn out fine. I continued.

Cooling the cake, I fluffed up the mousse and frosted between the layers. It was time to mix up the ganache and pour it over the top of the cake. This plate that I have the cake on makes it look really small. I’m sure it’s fine, though. No one will notice.

Smoothing the thick chocolate over the top and letting it drip down the sides of the layers, I returned the cake to the fridge to rest for the evening. It would be ready for the birthday celebration the following day.

Why does that cake look so small? exclaimed my little noticing truth-teller, the minute she opened the fridge the next morning. So it wasn’t just me. The wheels in my head began turning, and doubt that I had added baking soda during the second mixing settled firmly.

I thought it looked a little small, too, added the one whose birthday was being celebrated, but I’m sure it will still taste good.

The tearburst that followed caught us both off guard, as I sat crying about so many things, the least of which was the cake but also about the cake.

That’s what found us lighting candles and singing “Happy Birthday” at 8:30 on a Sunday morning in January. Because sometimes you start with the cake.

It was delicious. A little dense, but oh so tasty. Happy Birthday, Steve! Top o’ the morning to you!

happy birthday