Friday, May 28, 2010

In the backyard

The broccoli is growing,

and Big Man... he's monitoring.

The peonies are thriving,

and Lolli... she's savoring.

Noh-man is pitching,

and Bub... he's waiting.

And Ferguson... he's basking

while Mosby is napping.

And me... I'm just soaking it all in...
and loving every single second of it!

"This is the day the LORD has made
[I] will rejoice and be glad in it."

Psalm 118:24

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A choice

Last week, my sister-in-love, Leslie, and I were talking... about family, about commitments, about busy-ness, about priorities, about sacrifice. And about Love... in action. In our families. All the time. About inconvenience and about service. About selflessness and about grace.

And I was reminded, as I so often need to be, that Love is NOT a feeling; it's a choice, and it puts others first... always. ALWAYS. It never seeks its own, and it never keeps a record of wrongs suffered. Instead, it seeks to serve another. It seeks to encourage another. It seeks to GIVE and BLESS and CHERISH another as it understands and accepts and embraces and hopes.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love,
I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have a faith that can move mountains,
but have not love,
I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,
but have not love,
I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

(1 Corinthians 13:1-8)

And now, a few days later, I have to wonder... why is it that love-- true LOVE-- is so rarely seen in this earthly realm?? Why do we, on most occasions, only see some misshapen, contorted resemblance of the real thing? I mean, even amongst christians... amongst believers in the risen Christ... amongst families... LOVE, in its truest form, is so often non-existent. Why. is. that?

You see, over and over again, I'm being reminded that Love is sacrifice. It's attending a nephew's ball game instead of watching an HBO movie. It's driving a few hours to attend a celebration instead of lazing around the house. It's giving up a free weekend to partake in an out of town gathering because your presence would mean a great deal to the host. It's sacrifice. Plain and simple.

Now... don't get me wrong, I don't have this Love thing down to a science. I am still a sinner--flawed... imperfect... and struggling. But I DO have the perfect example to follow. I have HIS example.... His ultimate & perfect example... selflessess to the core... in action... as He sacrificed everything-- EVERYTHING...

He gave up His Son.

For me.

And then He called me to Love like Him. To follow His lead. To walk His path.

And not just for my gain, but for my children, too. Because how much harder will it be for them to learn to give of themselves if they never see it modeled for them? How much harder will it be for them to learn to put the needs of another above their own if I never do so myself? How much harder will it be for them to learn to glorify the One who is worthy of all glory if I behave as one who only seeks self-attention, self-acknowledgement, and self-satisfaction? And how can I ever expect my children to serve with a heart like Jesus unless they daily see it modeled here?

Hmmm. That's a tough one.

But not impossible. Because God-- who has called me to every good work-- will equip me by the power of His Holy Spirit. And by His grace, each day... there'll be a little bit less of me and a little bit more of Him.

Yes, sacrifice costs. It means giving up that evening movie. It means giving up that Saturday shopping spree. It means giving up that nap or that lunch date or that leisurely, stress-free weekend because the blessing of my time, my effort, my LOVE... bestowed on another... means so, so much more.

And because Jesus did it for me.

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

John 15:3

Monday, May 24, 2010

1000 Gifts: Beautiful days of May

"Not to us, O LORD, not to us
but to your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness."

Psalm 115: 1

Another week... another Monday...
another opportunity to look back and thank the Lord for His perfectly wonderful gifts.

school's end in sight... perseverance (and strength from above) to finish strong

his desire to help in the garden

and the completed work of his hands

"Mom, come and see it! I made it for YOU."

my sister-in-love, obedient to God's Word

His grace to mend & repair & rebuild & renew


a picnic with friends and a blue sky canopy

and later... rain clouds on the horizon

gardens refreshed, rain buckets full

a pile of good books... spare minutes to read

child laughter in the backyard and basketball on the patio

night breezes through windows, fresh air through the house

marks on the wall... their growth measured there... bigger and bigger each and every time

character growth... lessons learned... truth explored... hearts changed

new socks

Big Man: "Tomorrow's gonna be a sad day... because it's the last day of co-op."

and then later... "Today's gonna be a sad day AND a happy day!" ... because he recognized the beauty & joy of the hour... and because he realized that next fall we get to do it all over again!

a birthday party with friends... a weekend in the woods... CAMPING!

sleeping bags and tents, flashlights and marshmallows, bonfires and lemonade... childhood delights

Big Man's excitement... "I've never slept in a tent before!"

the beautiful "surrounds"-- no horns honking, no stereos blaring, no angry drivers swearing...
just peace... and tranquility... and rest

and daddy there to share it all... and Lolli and me, too, for a few hours at least... before we drove back home...
to find sleep under blankets in bed :)

hands to hold and great, great friends

"Stand up and praise the LORD your God,
for He lives from everlasting to everlasting!"

Nehemiah 4:5b

holy experience

and the list continues...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Homeschooling benefit #101

My children actually like each other.

I mean, yes... they DO have those days... you know, the ones marked by
I'm-gonna-throw-you-under-the-bus-as-soon-as-I'm-able kind of moments.
But those are not a constant; they are not the everyday.
And when they do inevitably make an unwanted and unexpected appearance,
we have the perfect opportunity for working them through,
for talking them through,
and for restoring peace to our family & home.

And what a privilege it is to witness... every single day...
their All for one, and one for all mentality.
Though nine years separate my oldest from my youngest...
though three are male and one is most definitely NOT...
though battles come and battles go...
they ENJOY one another's company.
They enjoy one another's companionship.
They enjoy one another's camaraderie.
They enjoy one another.

So much so that this little nugget... all pink and girlie...
wants to be just like them.

Water pistols and all.

I think I'll take it :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

1000 Gifts: In the woods

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below,
Praise Him above, ye Heavenly Host,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

--Thomas Ken (1674)

After a weekend away, I count my blessings once again.
Because from His outstretched hand each one flows,
and so to Him, the glory rightly returns.

a weekend in the woods

Mom's and Dad's home... their always-open door

their acceptance... their love... their hearts



family meals around the table... plates licked clean

chocolate cobbler and chocolate malts... yum. yum. yum.

laughter and tale-telling

the tickle monster

memories socked away... precious moments to cherish for a lifetime

lessons in nature... His perfect design (this is a seed pod-- I would have never known!)

teensy impatiens... self-seeded in mama's greenhouse... now potted up and ready for a new home... in my garden

her way, her nature, her soul-- *always* giving

words that speak LIFE

a race through the trees

water guns and hoses (they never disappoint!)

and a Saturday reminder-- many hands make light work

creative gardening-- Mom's late-night effort to keep 4 persistent pups out of her vegetable patch

the "I'm not sick anymore!" dance... a 24-hour bug-- GONE!

and even more wonderfully-- dad's clean bill of health

the Father's healing hand

His faithfulness displayed every single day

and His love written across the skies... everywhere we look

His image, as seen in daddy... his strong embrace that never lets go and never gives up

and reminds me of security in the Father and His everlasting arms

"There is none like the God of Jeshurun,
Who rides the heavens to your help,
And through the skies in His majesty.
The eternal God is a dwelling place,
And underneath are the everlasting arms..."

Deuteronomy 33:26-27

Join the Gratitude Community~
holy experience

and the list continues...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

On the path

Recently I've been convicted--
convicted that, while academic learning is vitally important to my children's growth and development,
it's certainly NOT everything.
There's so much more to these childhood years... to this time they spend in our nest.
There's so much more to do and share and discover and experience... apart from the books...
as we interact with one another and with those around us,
as we explore and examine and unearth the world around us,
as we watch the flowers bloom and the tree leaves unfurl,
as we step away from the confines of our home and head OUTSIDE
to feast on the glory of His creation.

So the other day we set the schoolbooks aside and took a walk... through the "wilderness"...
and we marveled at the hand of our Creator,
at the mystery of His design, and at the splendor of His kingdom.

The giant oaks, the babbling brook, the little discoveries along the way--
like the deer that scampered across our path... the tiny frogs that hopped along the water's edge... the baby "gooslings," or is it "geeslings?"... nay, goslings, Bub recalled, that journeyed in a row, one right behind the other as mama & daddy book-ended the bunch.

The kooky-looking bugs that sat atop the tall "prairie" grasses...
the magnificent butterflies, adorned in black and white...
the hollow logs, the hiding places, the fortresses for critters both large and small...
all these are part of His world,
and all deserve a moment or two of our appreciation and attention.


So we walked. And we talked. And we climbed. And we laughed.
And then I felt guilty.
Because my focus is not always the best.
Because sometimes I get distracted and lose sight of the end goal.
Because sometimes I forget why we're really here.
But then God, in His mercy, reminded me--
yes, Chris and I will make mistakes along way,
yes, we'll blow it sometimes,
and yes, we'll mourn our sinful choices.
But, He, abounding in ever-lasting love,
will be faithful to fill in the gaps,
compensate for our shortcomings,
and pour grace over our errors...
as He leads them in His way.

And then I smiled.
And I thanked Him for His goodness.
And I walked on.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will make your paths straight."

Proverbs 3:5-6

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD,
"My refuge and my fortress,
My God,
in whom I trust!"

Psalm 91:1-2

"How blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stand in the path of sinners,
nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and in His law he meditates day and night.
And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither;
and in whatever he does, he prospers."

Psalm 1:1-3

Wishing you the happiest of days as you walk along His path~

Monday, May 10, 2010

1000 Gifts: Motherhood


There's nothing I'd rather do, there's nothing I'd rather be, there's nowhere I'd rather go.
Because being here with my family-- this good and perfect gift from my heavenly Father--
being God's work-in-progress sort of mom... that's my highest calling.

So after a beautiful day... a perfect day with them,
I give thanks to the One who made it all possible~

the four treasures who call me Mom

bear hugs and kisses

handmade gifts... their labors of love

"I thank Jesus for blessing me with you!" sketched on his card in pink

a RED gatorade from Big Man... "because red's [my] favorite color!"

a very thoughtful gift-- wrapped in Charmin (clean!) because they couldn't find the tissue paper

Hubby's efforts to get us all to smile at the same time... and look at the camera

hands to hold, a child in my lap

lunch with Les and her crew... more family

scooter races around the block

Daddy slowing down so that I could catch up :)

"hot lava" at the park... the six of us playing in the sunshine

ice cream sundaes with hot fudge and a cherry on top


the everyday... with them

and of course, great gifts from above-- my mama and Chris's-- my encouragers, my supporters, my role models... their motherly love

"All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother."

--Abraham Lincoln

holy experience

and the list continues...

Friday, May 7, 2010

It's the little things...

like your very own library card...

that make all the difference!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Passing it on...

Just the other day, one of my very first (and favorite) blogging friends, Carrie, surprised me to pieces (and blessed my socks right off my feet!) by giving me a bloggy-award-- the Sugar Doll award-- because I "make [her] life a little sweeter," and wow! May I just take a moment here to say thank you, Carrie! Your sweet, sweet thoughtfulness means more than I can say~

As far as this blog-o-mine is concerned... it really has been an incredibly fun outlet for me from the very beginning. What started as a digital scrapbook of sorts has turned in to a journal almost... an ongoing record of life here in this small Virginia neighborhood... with its ups & its downs, its joys & its sorrows, a few special adventures here & a few fun-filled discoveries there... all in an effort to keep it real (right, Carrie?!) AND to keep my eyes fixed on the Author of it all, Jesus Christ... because without Him, I wouldn't BE.

Over the past several months especially, I've become more keenly aware of His call... more keenly aware of His power... more keenly aware of His presence... and to think that, while I fail Him miserably on so many occasions, He still opts to use this lumpy jar of clay for His greater good, well... that's a real blessing! So thank you, Carrie-- for your kindnesses over these past many months, for your openness and for your honesty, for your regular words of encouragement, and for your friendship most of all. I really do hope that one day our paths will cross on this side of the computer screen!

So... with regards to this award... there are, evidently, a few rules. Here they are:

1- thank the person who gave you the award

2- name five bloggers who make your life a little sweeter

3- tell why I was given this award

4- tell the nominees why you are giving them the award

In keeping with Carrie's, tradition, however, I'm going to do things my own way. I'm going to buck this bloggy award system and offer this award to one person only... because she's the one who most certainly comes to mind. My bff of many, many years, Gretchen, has stuck by me through thick and thin... she's been my prayer warrior and my confidante, my sidekick and my "siesta." Simply put, she's the sister I never had... and there's simply no doubt about it-- life would NOT be nearly as sweet without her! Thank you, G... for everything!

Monday, May 3, 2010

1000 Gifts: A new month

The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies;
but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and,
as the magnet finds the iron,
so it will find, in every hour,
some heavenly blessings!

~Henry Ward Beecher

fresh produce from the farmer's market

backyard flowers

birthday celebrations with family & friends

a new month on the calendar

a freshly mowed lawn and impatiens in the flower pots

Mom's help in the garden-- bushes that now look almost normal
(the winter snows were awfully unkind to my boxwood!)

bicycle rides around the block... just the boys

I'm sorry.


playful banter and a love of school

9-year old: Oh, I can't wait for summer break (sigh).
5-year old: Why??
9-year old: Because then we don't have to do any school work!! That's everyone's dream.
5-year old: That's not my dream... that's SO not my dream.

a free balloon from the grocery store... and hours of imaginative play

a new AWANA patch... another book complete... a year-long goal-- achieved

enthusiastic kitchen helpers... and more-than-willing taste-testers too :)

Hubby's handy-work around the house... broken things now working once again

the start of a new swim season... and amazing success at their very first meet

commitment and focus, hard work and dedication


a fresh word from the Lord

time alone in His Word

and accountability... my bff... God's grace upon me

His gentle reminders, His always provision, His never-ending care

one more day

"... I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with loving-kindness."

Jeremiah 31:3

holy experience

and the list continues...