Tag Archives: heart

Tree of Life Moments

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.
Proverbs 13:12 (NKJV)

I’ve often lived in a state of deferred hope.

The first, most obvious, time was back in 1988 when I moved 1,100 miles from all that I loved and knew (my friends and my boyfriend!) to begin a new chapter of life. I felt pretty hopeless and quite sick of heart during that season and clung to this verse for hope that one day all would be well.

Desire would come, and with it, a tree of life.

My greatest desire was to marry that boy that I loved so much, That day was deferred for over four years, but it became my anchor. It was the thing to cling to when all else felt lost.

It was going to be my tree of life.

I spent much time over those four years sick at heart. Alone, hurting, pining away, struggling through, creating a fantasy of what my tree of life would look like. It finally came to me in 1992.

That tree of life didn’t look like what I thought it would.

I became good at deferring hope. Or maybe I just became good at giving up hope.

Days grew long and life rolled by as I waited for my tree of life to blossom and flourish. It had to be on its way. . .right?

What hope was I deferring?

What desire was I waiting for?

What would a tree of life even look like?

It was a long, lonely time before I realized that tree of life moments were there waiting to be noticed.

I experienced a tree of life moment the other day.

My husband and sons were away for the day on a hike. The girls and I were at home together. I decided that it might be fun to have a girls’ outing and get lunch at Chick-fil-A followed by a trip to the mall.

This was a big deal for a mama, who doesn’t do fun well with her kids. I have had the desire to do outings and activities, but times out always become overwhelming and disappointing.

The girls were excited when I told them the plan and prepared them for the fact that only the ones with remaining birthday money could buy something. The one without money responded maturely with understanding.

We went to lunch first. Each girl ordered her food, then the three of them went to a booth together and sat to wait for me to bring over our tray. As I walked to the table with food in hand, two mama friends walked in with their littles.

I watched them choose their booth by the playroom window for ease of supervising children. I watched them locate a high chair and tape down place mats and sort food. I watched them corral littles in the booth while snatching snippets of conversation.

I remember those days! I remember going out with friends and wrangling littles and wishing that I could just sit and have a conversation without having to nurse or hand out snacks or chase toddlers or inhale my own food.

There I was, at a table with my three littlest, enjoying intelligent conversation.

My deferred hope had resulted in a desire coming there right before my eyes! I witnessed and named a tree of life moment as no one fought or spilled something or needed their diaper changed! We even had a “who can smile the biggest” selfie-taking contest. It ended in a three-way tie, of course! Mom could have smiled bigger had she opened her mouth.

I’m curious about and pondering that tree of life. It holds great meaning for me in other ways, as well, and I hope to explore further my draw to it. For now, it has given me new words to name what I have often overlooked.

I am grateful.

How Are You?

How am I?

How do I answer? How do you?

I am overwhelmed, grateful, excited, blessed, nervous, insecure, ambivalent, humbled, prideful, dazed, tense, stressed, tired, eager, anticipating, happy, sad, celebrating, grieving.

I am a messier mess than usual these days. This week.

It is really the end of the planning and beginning of the celebrating. 6 days to go!

Overwhelmed by all that needs to happen this week to get to Friday
Grateful for all of the work my daughter has done to plan her wedding
Excited to celebrate with all of our friends and family who will be there
Blessed to be the mother of the bride
Nervous to don my mother of the bride costume and play the role
Insecure about my abilities to pull this end of the year week off
Ambivalent about most everything having to do with celebrating
Humbled by those who have fixed meals, come in early to help, taken over my nursery duty
Prideful of my amazing kids, both students and biological, and their accomplishments
Dazed when I think of how far there is to go to get where we need to be
Tense when I start to make it too much about me
Eager to get this party started
Anticipating an amazing experience
Happy that summer is almost here
Sad that there only a few days left with my girl before the season changes
Celebrating life
Grieving the passing of time

That’s how I am.

How are YOU?

From the Compost Pile ~ It’s Not Personal (a Valentine’s story)

There’s a story from years ago in my journal ~ an epiphany to me, of sorts, as you will soon see. Enjoy this peek into my (frightfully~sensitive, continuing to learn that it’s not about me) heart…and then check out the recipe at the end!

My head knows it’s not personal.

We sit chatting ~ a group of women gathered to celebrate an impending birth ~ and the topic circles to our preparations for upcoming Valentine’s Day parties.

I know this! I’ve got it. Two weeks ago I experienced a Valentine’s fiasco while attempting to walk my three young daughters, then 7, 5, and 3, down the card exchange aisle to choose theirs.

I share this experience. Others nod in agreement.

There’s the frustration of type and cost and amount of cards in each box. Boy or girl or gender-neutral? Candy? Sticker? Tattoo? Store meltdown?

“Homemade!” interjects a fun, experienced mom.

Each year, at the beginning of February, she and her children start making cards. It’s their thing, and it’s not stressful if they’ve planned ahead for it.

She describes this year’s cards, and we ooh and ahhh over lollipops dressed as superheroes and ballerina card rockets made from candy rolls.

I know this, too! It’s with cookies. My special, only~on~Valentine’s Day chocolate shortbread dipped hearts. Bakery~beautiful. Made by me!

Two~dozen for each class party, plus extras to give away just because.

I know stressful and last~minute and the desire to start early. I start with the best of intentions each year, thinking I will plan ahead and fill the freezer February 1st. I’m often up late February 13th dipping and drizzling and counting.

DSCN7586

I begin to share my homemade cookie experience.

Silence. Murmurs. No one really trusts homemade these days.

But these are my beautiful Valentine cookies! I want to defend them. Explain myself. Fit in!

Something inside of me shrinks and hides. I retreat to the inner place where I can process that it’s not about me.

It’s about not knowing people and their kitchens and gluten and allergies and sanitary conditions.

I get it in my head, but my heart is slowly awakened to the reality that I’m from another mothering era, moving on…baking cookies.

Like Grandma.

Now here’s the good part, the recipe found in the February/March 2005 Taste of Home magazine…

Valentine Cookie Recipe
Cream together
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
Add
1 tsp vanilla
In a separate bowl combine
2 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa
Gradually add to the butter/sugar mixture, forming the dough.
Roll out onto lightly floured (I use cocoa) surface and cut with cookie cutters. (I cover my dough with waxed paper and roll it out, hence the wrinkles.)
DSCN7585Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes. Let cool and remove to wire racks.DSCN7584To decorate,
Melt 1 cup of white chocolate or almond bark or those melty disks and 1 T shortening in a microwave-safe bowl for 30 second increments, stirring after each check until smooth. Dip the edges of cooled cookies into the coating and place on waxed paper.DSCN7583Melt a handful (1/2 cup) of chocolate chips with 1 T of shortening in the same way. Then spoon the mixture into a zipper bag or pastry decorator bag to do the drizzle. My daughter, Shortcut Shani, saved a step by placing them in a zipper quart freezer bag and melting them in the microwave that way. You just have to poke a little hole in the corner afterwards. Drizzle the chocolate over the hearts, like so.DSCN7586Shortcut Shani also makes this recipe Vegan by using shortening in place of the butter.DSCN7598There you have an easy, fun treat to make for your Valentine (but not necessarily for your child’s class unless you are me), if he or she has no dietary restrictions. I make these once a year. They are like buttah.

 

Embracing 2014

And just like that, I had my word.

Embrace.

Sweeping the kitchen last Friday, pondering the morning’s counseling appointment that my luvvah so graciously agreed to attend with me, realizing that I need to embrace the good in my life, it came to me.

embrace~ to hold someone in your arms as a way of expressing love and friendship

I have a husband who loves me dearly, whom I have been holding at arm’s length. I long to embrace him and his love for me fully.

embrace~ to accept (something or someone) readily or gladly

God has extended much grace to me. I long to embrace that grace rather than hold it at arm’s length. There are many changes coming this year. I long to embrace them well rather than struggle against them. Accept them readily and gladly.

embrace~ to take up especially readily or gladly

I am getting ready to take up the second semester of the school year. I long to embrace the work I have been given to do in this season of life. To embrace what is coming that I can’t even see, yet.

embrace~ to avail oneself of; welcome

I hope to embrace the challenges that arise this year as opportunities to grow. To welcome them.

embrace~ to use (an opportunity) eagerly

Each day is full of moments to embrace. Abounding with them, really. I haven’t been embracing the moments, though, or using my opportunities eagerly. I have been resentful, angry, frustrated, annoyed with the opportunities to love those around me…especially those in my home. Sad, but true.

I long to change that. Choose to embrace.

Change is hard for me. 

Yes, I realize that a word doesn’t change a heart. But it helps to focus and remind a heart of what is important.

There you have it. My word and how it came to be, even though it wasn’t on the original list of possibilities. What about you? How do you choose to focus and remind your heart of what is important?

Grateful for a Glimpse

It’s been a hard six weeks.

In addition to the change in schedule and new routine and workload, technical parts of the blog were malfunctioning, causing frustration that even the smallest joy in my life was broken.

These are discouraging days.

I am trying to hold onto truth, but it’s been slipping from my hands and abandoning my heart.

Writing is literally ready…set…go! Where are the words falling to, so eloquent in my head, before my fingers grab a pen or strike the keys? It’s a little something or a whole lot of nothing. No middle ground. I fight for the crumbs.

There are tearful days.

Even good stuff is hard. Overwhelming. Exhausting.

So when I get some time to finally figure out the glitch and learn something new about where my plugins are housed, and I see that my blog hasn’t totally flatlined and there are still readers, it feels like a glimpse of hope.

I can figure things out. It just takes time. That thing that mocks me daily as I live in the chaos where there is too much and never enough.

From the Compost Pile ~ Combating the Fallback Lie

You are a fallback friend.

It’s a lie that has been whispered to me by the enemy since I was young.

No one would CHOOSE to be friends with you.

I still struggle with believing this.

You are okay to hang around if there is no one better to spend time with.

What lies have you believed about yourself? This is one of many that I have believed. It has taken a long time to combat with truth. I am NOT a fallback friend, and there actually ARE people who would CHOOSE me.

God was so kind to me this week to send my friend, Aisha, to Massanutten for a getaway with her husband and six-month-old baby (of six!). She messaged asking if we could get together, and in the midst of preparing for this school year, I was able to take some time off for a lunch date at Bowl of Good on Pt. Republic (go there!).

I am so glad that I fought for that time together. It would have been incredibly easy for me to come up with all kinds of reasons why it wouldn’t matter if it didn’t work out, when the truth was I NEEDED that time with a fellow sister in the trenches to process where we are, have been, are going.

Our backstory…

We met over two years ago when we were part of a team of women traveling to China to minister. Nothing bonds you like watermelon and wheatgrass shooters in a foreign country! We both mother many children (14 between us), and she is a holistic, homeschooling, amazing mom. We had many conversations and overcame quite a few obstacles (like the case of the missing money!), and lived to tell about it.

Some people come into your life for a small season and remain to give you a taste of heaven. Aisha is one of several of these women in my life. The kind that call or text and say Can you meet me tomorrow? When they live hours or days away.

During this time of transition and change, when I am struggling with feeling gotten, God has sent me several reminders that I am loved and people get me and would actually choose to be my friend.

And I am humbled and incredibly grateful.

(And yes, this looks like we are at Panera, because that is where we met up with her husband. For the record.)

I Choose

I choose truth
though the lies are smooth
and comfortable
and easy to believe.

I choose feeling
though numbness is tempting
and familiar
and easy to embrace.

I choose delight
though dread is presenting
and enduring seems tempting
and easy to handle.

I choose engagement
though distance feels safer
and far more predictable
and easy to control.

I choose freedom
though bondage is calling
and rules are compelling
and though it’s not easy,
I choose to let go.

Casting Cares

Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

I’m trying hard to cast them, but they circle back around
They fasten themselves to me, and they drag me to the ground.

The overwhelming feelings in my heart, the hurt and pain,
They tap me on the shoulder to remind me they remain.

I’m trying hard to let go, to be still, yet stay engaged.
They whisper words of doubt to me, and try to keep me caged.

The thoughts that I am failing, that I’m lost and on my own,
They plant themselves inside my head and won’t leave me alone.

I’m trying to believe it, that it’s true, He cares for me
They hijack at my weakest point, say it could never be.

The fears that I have missed out on the best part of my life
They won’t be cast, they’re being flung, at the feet of Jesus Christ.

What do you have to fling at the feet of Jesus today?

Grabbing for an Umbrella

Good is not a word I would use to describe this.
The place where I am is hard.
And as someone who has felt life as a constant struggle rather than a joy, I am tired.
I know there is nothing I deserve

like easy

or pleasant

or joyful.

 I desire these things.

I wish I were a spiritual giant saying, Bring on the rain, but I’m weak and grabbing for an umbrella or an escape to somewhere sunny away from the storm.

When things are not easy, pleasant, or joyful, I wrestle with the whys.

I want to curse,
and fight,
and run away by myself.

I wish it were not so painfully difficult to stay present and engaged.

Where are you right now? Not physically, but where is your heart?
Maybe you are in a place of calm. Maybe a storm is brewing. Maybe you are in the midst of an all-out squall or in the eye of a hurricane.
I wrote this to reflect on how I respond to storms when others seem to be able to praise in the midst of them. That is my desire. To praise.
But honestly, truth be told, I find myself running for cover. Self-protecting. Longing to escape.

When there is no Reason

When there is no reason for hope,
I’ll keep hoping.
When it seems that my world is falling apart;
When I look around me and everything’s broken,
I’ll try to believe and to hand you my heart.

You say that I’ve been made right with you.
Your undeserved kindness declares I am free.
You say that nothing I’m going through
Can stand between you and your patience with me.

When there is no reason to love,
You keep loving.
You carry the world and my life in your hands.
When I’ve been unfaithful to you, you remind me,
You’re fair, and you’re just, and your faithfulness stands.

You say that I’ve been made right with you.
Your undeserved kindness declares I am free.
You say that nothing I’m going through
Can stand between you and your patience with me.

When all of my thoughts and my actions condemn me,
My mouth offers curses, my heart bitterness.
When I run to evil and can’t seem to find peace,
You offer assurance of your righteousness.

You say that I’ve been made right with you.
Your undeserved kindness declares I am free.
You say that nothing I’m going through,
Can stand between you and your patience with me.

When there is no reason for hope,
I’ll keep hoping.
When it seems that my world is falling apart;
When I look around me and everything’s broken,
I’ll try to believe and to hand you my heart.

Written during a time of heartache and pain on 1/9/11, inspired by Romans 3 and 4. Dedicated to those I love who are struggling, when there is no reason.