Try to find joy in spite of your hurting places.
The Lord will work out His plans for my life-
For your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not abandon me, for you made me.
Powerful confidence – The Lord working out His plans for my life. He made me! He gave me a job to do. He will not abandon me.
Can I thank Him for the job He has given me? Quit wrestling, questioning, demanding to know why? Turn what feels like drudgery into thankful acceptance? Even joy?
In this moment I feel hope! It seems possible that, yes, I can learn to be content. I might even feel a hint of joy.
Do I have confidence that Christ through His suffering is able to help me through mine?
Jesus, help me to never forget.
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.We slept over, sharing secrets and dreaming of the charms to wishlist for our Pandora bracelets. 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?! Um, no, this is my sister. Little Roo has a tender heart just like her auntie.I 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.
Standing on the landing with your back to Fall Blessings, you face this display. It is full and cluttered, but each object is special. Meaningful.
The sister picture lives there year-round under the star, because we are super-stars. I love my kindred spirits and how they keep me grounded.
Underneath is a bowl selected at Soup Night last spring. I love the tree etched into the pottery. I wish the artist had scratched a name in the back, but it remains anonymous.
To the left is the annual family picture. I love to see it every day many times a day. Close-by lies an interesting rock, just because it fits.
To the right is a ceramic mother sheep with her babies, a gift from long ago. This captures my love for sheep and for the Good Shepherd who gently leads those who are with young, who gently led me for so many years, who continues to lead me as I grow older.
Underneath it all lies a scarf, a gift from Africa. I use this as a runner. It reminds me of the gift of community and friendship.
Propped up for the season is the pumpkin patch picture that brought on tears when I got it out.
There is always a story.
Ever so many years ago, before Aunt Bear and Uncle P were married, they took three littles to the pumpkin patch one fall. I honestly can’t remember many details from that season of life, so I am grateful for pictures.
The top picture is daughter one. The middle is son one joining her. The bottom adds precious babygirl two. Such sweetness.
I am grateful for younger siblings who have loved my children well and captured memories for me and made memories for my children when I was in a fog. These pictures are so, so precious. I love these little people who have grown into adults who continue to bless my heart.
Throwing it back! Enjoy your day.
In April, 2014, I took a risk.
I risked writing and submitting my thoughts to a blog written by women I admire, following their guest post submission guidelines.
The seed of this desire was planted last summer, when I first discovered the blog Red Tent Living. Each month I thought, next month I will try to get something submitted by the first, but each very full month came and went with no post.
It was an exercise in kindness and grace for my heart, since I was the only one who knew this desire and the only one allowing the voice of contempt and failure in when I fell short.
I spent much time this year, over these months, learning to quiet that voice.
One April Saturday, working in the yard with my husband, our quiet space in the bigness of life, it came to me that now is the time. I needed to just do it and go to my room and write about the strawberries.
I did it.
I sat in my Pinterest Corner and wrote and figured out how to submit the words.
Then I waited.
I knew that the post may or may not be accepted. I knew that taking the risk of putting myself out there might mean rejection. I knew that rejection of a post does not equal rejection of a person.
I’m telling you, there was a lot I had to learn in life to get to the place of even trying!
Having set a goal and now trying for it, all I could do was wait. The waiting process was a challenge in itself to one who has many voices to settle in her head.
Then it came.
The email thanked me for my submission and said that while May’s schedule was full, my post would fit June’s themes, as well. It would be published the first week of June.
All along, I had told myself, and come to terms with, whatever happened was the right thing and time. Even rejection would be right. To find out that my first real published work would take place the week of my birthday was a huge hug for my heart.
Those strawberry pots? They looked like this last Friday. . .
And like this on Saturday. . .
. . .when my girl and boy returned from their honeymoon and took them to their new home.
And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
A big part of planning a wedding is deciding what everyone will wear. In this family that meant not only the bride but seven other siblings, a mother, and father.
The boys were easy. They got measured for tuxedos.
The bride went shopping last fall with her sister, maid of honor. They found a beautiful dress that I didn’t see on my girl until the fitting in March. It was stunning and part of the wedding budget, so it didn’t count towards our family out-of-pocket expense.
The bridesmaids wore gray dresses and yellow Toms chosen online, so daughter two had her own one size fits all adventure. She looked beautiful. She also covered her own cost being an adult and everything.
The three little sisters were junior bridesmaids and flower girl. This is where I had to become more involved, shopping and choosing clothes that would fit in our family budget as opposed to our wedding one.
Coco’s turquoise sparkly dress was an after Easter find at Belk for under $20. The shoes were a measure of grace from Target, because she has hard-to-fit feet.
Roo’s yellow dress was found, surprisingly enough, at Costco for under $30. Her shoes were a Target find.
Little Mae’s flower girl dress was discovered after Easter at Kohl’s. It was a bargain at $25. Such mercy. I had tried a dress for her from Costco, but after seeing the bride’s gown, I realized it was too bright of a white. It became Mae’s Easter dress. Her sparkly shoes were on sale at Target.
I think we clothed our three little maids for under $120. Not bad for wedding attire.
Which leaves the Mother of the Bride. I’m sure you are just on the edge of your seat wondering where I found such a perfect dress.
Of course there is a story.
I’m recognizing this tendency in myself to put big things off in denial fashion. This happened with dress shopping for my MOB dress.
I didn’t even begin looking for one until late spring when I poked around some online stores, narrowing options and studying styles. I don’t exactly live in a fashionable city. At least that’s what I told myself. It hasn’t really stopped me from clothes shopping before.
Originally I wanted a purple gown, but my slowness and hesitancy caused me to miss the boat when the groom’s mom chose her own lovely purple dress. Time for plan B.
An over the mountain shopping day was planned with my big girls, and it was to be the day that I found the dress. This was late April, and I became so, so sick, that we had to cancel. Things were not looking good. The mother of the bride is expected to have a dress.
One day an email came from my sister across the country who had come out to visit for the shower but was unable to attend the wedding. In it were links to three different dresses.
The dress in the first link was perfect. Instead of purple, I chose it in reef, and a few days later a dress arrived in the mail.
The denial thing was still going on, as it hung on the back of my bedroom door, still encased in a plastic bag, not tried on for several days. Finally, I worked up the nerve to unwrap it and pull it over my head, and it fit perfectly! The only thing needed were high heeled shoes, it was that long.
I never wear heels; my sister has amazing style with them, so I channeled her during a special shoe shopping trip with my daughter. We picked a pair of sparkly sandals.
After the purchase, Katie asked if I was okay. You just got really quiet.
I think it was the finality of it all. I had my dress, shoes, and a passable necklace (I ended up purchasing a different one the day before the wedding). It was really time for this wedding to happen.
It was even more special to me that my sister had been part of the dress and shoe selection process from afar. And for inquiring minds, the MOB was outfitted for under $250. I think she was worth it.
Anybody need some new jump rope rhymes? Here are some composed by the clever students in my class.
Chipmunk, Chipmunk in a tree
How many acorns do you see?
One, two, three…
Jaguar, Jaguar in the zoo
How many meals do they feed you?
One, two, three…
One, two…blue chippoo
Five, six…chocolate sticks
Nine, ten…do it again.
Cheddar cheese, cheddar cheese in a dish
How many chipmunks will eat the dish?
One, two, three…
(Child’s name, child’s name) took a sprocket
And with it he built a rocket
How long did the countdown take?
One, two, three…
Did you have a favorite jump rope rhyme as a child? Do share!
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.
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 can’t see what you are doing right now. I grow anxious with thoughts of what might be rather than what is…for now. A cacophony of voices fills my head with everything from open mocking and condemnation to subtle doubt and fear. This may be…that may be…what about…
My children…you love them and are at work. But since I can’t see instantly or easily, I fear. I take on everything as fault rather than seeing work and growth and decision making by individuals.
This day, would you give me grace to let go and to experience joy with my family? To release expectation and responsibility and just accept your work in each of our lives? To embrace my husband as the love of my life and constant friend when our child~rearing days end?
Help me to enjoy these days as the gift from you that they are.