Sunday, September 30, 2012

Getting Right

My usual  Monday morning fare of "1000 Gifts Sunday" needs to be postponed due to my current mental situation....

I ain't right.
I can't get it together.
I don't wanna.
I don't feel like it.

Can I make this more painfully clear?

For the past year and a half, I have arisen each morning with a true desire
to write, to share, to live and listen and learn in communion with Him.

Today I don't wanna.

Actually, this mental attitude has persisted since I arrived home from my trip.

I had a lovely time in Alabama with a lovely family
at a lovely wedding in a lovely setting. 
But in the days of prep and work and anticipation;
in the days of shopping and planning and arranging;
in the days of activities and moving and shaking,
something terrible happened....

GOD GOT LOST.

I lost Him
and
It was all my fault.

I set my sights on the task at hand rather than on His help.
I worked at making everything beautiful on a table or in a vase or on my person rather than taking in the beauty provided all around me in the waves and the sand and the sunsets.
I did my usual bang-up job of wearing a captain's hat in the midst of the crowd rather than letting the authority and glory and honor go to the One really in charge.






Gross...

As is usually the case in these times of separation from Him,
I've had a difficult time resuming my closeness.
In truth, I just haven't wanted it.
I've chosen to read the latest Grisham novel
(bought at a 50% off table in the airport) before reading His word.
I've chosen to watch reruns of The Office with my kids
rather than write His messages sent constantly to me.
I've chosen to skulk around, surrounded by darkness,
rather than lift my eyes to His Light.


Again...yuck...

Yet through all of the darkness, He has persisted.
His coaxing "ahems" have turned into quiet whispers of encouragement...
When I didn't take the bait on these,
He sent me a beautiful friend with whom to read Scripture and counsel me...
When that salve lasted only a few hours, He began booming in His Heavenly voice, shouting for me to heed and come home...
It's all around me in Word, Message, and Opportunity.

I'm almost there today.

I gotta get right in my head and my heart.
In my body and my spirit.
Because Truth be told (and yes, the capital "T" is intentional)
there is nothing without Him.
Darkness and evil and refusal prevail.

I've been down that black road and I don't relish returning.

Gotta get right...
Gotta get right...
Gotta get right...

And where will it start?
In thanksgiving to Him for this trial and this moment when I can choose.
Light or darkness...
Love or hate...
Grace or self-righteousness.

 
I know my choice.
It's a done deal.
I'm getting right.
I choose Light.
I choose Love.
I choose Grace.

I choose Him.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Adding, Not Subtracting

It's my last day at home with my mother in Alabama. Before we started our day, as is our custom, we sat at the breakfast table and talked for awhile.  I told her I had been thinking so much about my dad on this trip...the feeling of him around us in the house is still palpable to me...and considering what I think is his great legacy to us.

Adding, not subtracting.

My dad was known for his charisma, his intelligence, and his humor to be sure.
But most importantly, he was known for adding...
Adding joy...
Adding grace...
Adding enthusiasm...
Adding support...
Adding prayer...
Adding wisdom...
Adding, never subtracting, from any challenge, event, function, relationship.

I know my own shortcomings - as you all know, I often blog about them here - 
and I know the qualities on which I need to work.
Sometimes in my humanity...the very core of my being...I subtract.
But I endeavor to live a life adding, not subtracting, just as my father did.
It is my greatest aspiration.

When I was about to turn in last night - and yes, I was using my father's old bedroom - 
I couldn't sleep and looked for some reading material.
There by his bedside was a tome entitled, "Christlikeness" written in the 1950's.
It held a prominent place by his nightstand 
so I know it held some sort of significance for him.
I turned to the first page and printed there, a poem by the author leapt out at me,
confirming my desire and my father's intent in his attitude. 

"Christlike in my words and actions,
Christlike in my mind and heart;
All my life reflecting Jesus
And the sweetness of His heart.
May His sweetness, love and patience
Find in me a counterpart,
As I paint His Lovely image
on the canvas of my heart.

Christlike in my work and study
Done for Him with purest love,
Walking hand in hand with Jesus,
Seeking but the things above.
Christlike in my love for Mary,
His dear mother and my own,
Simple, docile, like the Christ child,
In His humble, earthly home.

May I grow more like my Master,
Each new day God gives me here,
Till His glorious, radiant Image
Shines through me, full, strong and clear.
Rich in virtues, full of merits,
Sharing in His life and grace,
Oh what glory to be like Him
When I meet Him face to face!"

- Sister M. Victorine

I want to be Christlike....
In intent and pursuit...
In work and in play...
In  interaction and relationship.
I want to add,
just like Christ did,
from the colorful wonders painted by the Master Artist on the canvas of my heart.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Wish and A Prayer

In honor of my sister's wedding today, I want to share my wishes and prayers for her special day.  First, the prayer, taken from 1 Corinthians 13:

"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have 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 do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
 
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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...And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."


Then my gift to her, the wish for her marriage taken straight from my heart...

I wish you loving kindness,
forgiveness during the rough patches &
exceeding joy together and in Him.
I wish you a smooth and peaceful journey...
But when there are bumps along the way, I wish for you faith,
leaning into Him for peace, not away from Him in fear and anxiety.
I wish for you to have understanding hearts and sympathetic ears, 
always greeting each other with these first in every situation.
I wish hope for the future.
I wish success in your efforts.
But most importantly...
...I wish you love.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Summoned

I leave on Wednesday for a week at home in Alabama.  It will be my first visit since my dad passed in May.  I'm truly looking forward to seeing my mom and sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews.  And as an exciting bonus, my sister is getting married.  It will be a beautiful time.

Still, there is a bit of me that is sad about making the trip knowing that it will be the first time to visit at my mom's without my dad's red Irish face smiling at me, his clear ocean eyes looking into mine.  I have been talking to him alot this past week.  I've asked for him to be with me in my sorrow and comfort me in my need.

We went to the 12:30 service on Sunday.  It's so lovely now getting to hear my daughter sing with the praise band...almost like I'm up there myself raising my voice in song.  I feel that I am through her.

Communion came and the hymn was announced:  The Summons


We've never sung this hymn before at my church. 

In fact, I had never heard it before my sister sang it at my father's bedside
in his final days. 






When she suggested that it be sung at his funeral,
my daughter and her cousin, Carolyne, sang it for him...
in clear, rejoicing tones...
with love and joy in their voices...
music void of tears, given as their final gift to him.

Afterward, Carolyne said she felt Grandpa beside her while she sang.  It was obvious he was there, holding her up and giving her strength for all of us.

When the song was announced this week, Colleen just looked down at me and smiled.  I did in return and we sang together, she from the choir and me from the congregation, the beautiful melody swirling around us like angels' wings. 
clouds,iStockphoto,nature,partly cloudy,skies,sunlight,weather
I knew my father was dancing around us, sustaining me and buoying me up, assuring me of his presence during my coming trip.

Best line..."Yes, I'll move and live and grow in you and you in Me."  Oh, yes, that is so true.  He will...and so will my Daddy.

Joyful I was...
not a tear in sight...
Thank you, Daddy, for speaking to me in my most vivid language...
thank you for summoning my faith. 



Photo credits:  "Sun rays shining through clouds" & "Close up of sheet music":
iStockphoto for Microsoft Images

Sunday, September 16, 2012

1000 Gifts Sunday

My Sunday blessing following.  Thanks to Ann Voskamp and A Holy Experience for the weekly challenge.  I hope your week is full of things for which you are grateful!

Gratitudes #476 - 507

#476  Movie date with my sweetheart on a lazy Sunday afternoon
#477  Listening to my children sing
#478  Colleen playing guitar for my friends
#479  Kevin, butterflies & answered prayers
#480  My own white butterfly experience
#481  Starbucks decaf double tall one Splenda latte Sunday
#482  Miley, my dear, dear friend
#483  Brawleys for dinner and philosophy
#484  Planning Margaret's wedding with her
#485  Annie, Dance Excellence and a piece of editing
#486  A long conversation with my Mama...so excited to see her on Wednesday!
#487  A paycheck (woof, it's been awhile!)
#489  Downton Abbey continuing!!  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  So incredible!
#490  Tithing
#491  Sitting on OCSD's The Voice mock panel...so much fun helping young singers again!
#492  $5 Starbucks giftcard
#493  Reading & researching new budgetary tools...getting it together...gonna be good
#494  Beautiful word and heart messages this week from Him
#495  Devotionals speaking straight to me; loving writing about them
#496  Braden wanting to join the school recycling team...seeking community and responsibility
#497  Great P90X workouts
#498  Loving that my kids are seeking opportunities for health and wellness
#499  Driving with Colleen to YA rehearsal - first time she drove in the carpool lane. What a good job!


#500  Seeing the tour show...looking forward to touring in January
Best part: the boys singing "Oh Danny Boy" and me realizing that I will be conducting it (my dad's song!) in Ireland, his family's home country... waaaahhhhhh!!!!!
#501  New technology opportunities...thanks to an old friend, Nick
#502  Building on my faith, trusting in the leap, even without a net
#503  Learning patience
#504  Fresh daisies...such a happy flower
#505  Knowing that it's better to wait on launching the website until it's really right than to rush into it (Sorry! Hope to reveal next week! Technical difficulties...)
#506  A lovely email from my brother-in-law
#507  A beautiful church service to start my faith journey week




{So grateful for this life. 
So grateful for this family. 
So grateful for this journey.
So grateful for your readership. 
Have a blessed week.}

Friday, September 14, 2012

I Didn't Know What I Didn't Know

While waiting to pick my son up from school yesterday, a song came on the radio that I've heard only once before.  It moved me so much the first time that I pulled my car over, scrounged around for a piece of paper and pen, and hurriedly jotted down the lyrics so I wouldn't forget them.  I carried that piece of paper in my purse for months.  Laura Story's song, "Blessings."

"What if your blessings come through raindrops?
What if your healing comes through tears?
What if 1000 sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near?
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?"

Deep...

I've been getting message after message the past few days about sadness.  But not in the "boy, life stinks...there's so much sadness around me" type of way.  Instead it has been in the "through our sadness we are able to find Him" kind of way.

I was talking to my best friend the other day.  She had sent me an article entitled, "The Unexpected Gift of Sadness."  Part of the article read:

"In all of our lives, the question is not if we will experience loss and pain and feel sadness, but how will we respond when we do? ...On a list of emotions we try to avoid, sadness often tops the list. Yet not only is feeling sad normal, it’s a gift from God. Sadness prompts us to pray, reminds us that we need others, calls us to be honest with ourselves and God, and creates compassion for others in our hearts."
 
This truly spoke to me.  Of course, we will experience pain and sadness. 
It's part of life:
sickness...
loss...
financial hardship...
even death.
But how do we deal with it when we are faced with it? 
Where will we turn? 
Will we blame?
Will we languish in despair?
Will we cover our heads and hide?
Will we pretend we're not hurt and win an Oscar for our ability to tamp down the pain with false cheer?
 
I did all of these things for years. 
I blamed God or my past; my parents or my husband; my grocer or my mailman...whoever I could in an effort to prevent facing reality.
I put on a good show for friends, families, neighbors, students, God -
and believe me, no one could ever accuse me of being less than stellar in my acting abilities -
all the while sinking deeper and deeper into the depths of despair.
I did these and other things until I found myself so low, so anxious, so depressed, so buried...
I thought I would never be able to come out of it.
 
Now I recognize the very depths of this sadness for what it truly was -
An invitation from my Father to lean totally on Him.
For care and healing.
For forgiveness and acceptance.
For a new path and a new life.
For everything.
 
I told my friend while we were discussing this topic,
"I didn't know what I didn't know."
As she smiled in understanding, I knew she, too, understood.
 
All those years I thought I was faithful...
Thought I was in tune with His grace...
Thought I had a hotline to Heaven.
Thought that I wanted His help.
But my persistence in trying to control everything in my life was evidence that I didn't know what I didn't know.
I didn't really know trust.
I didn't really know faith.
I didn't really know...well...
 
...Him.
 
I am beyond grateful now for these trials.
They are a blessing.
They were my Heavenly invitation to change.
A real "do-over" opportunity.
The sadness was an unexpected gift after all.
 
I invite you today to look at your current trials and sadness...
Challenges and family issues...
Questions and problems...
As what they may actually be.
 
An invitation to change and believe.
An opportunity to lean into Him, not away from Him.
An opportunity to discover that, as I once did,  
you might not know what you might not know.
An invitation to a "do-over" with Him leading the way.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Open Sesame, Part II

I wrote in my last post about "Eph'phatha" or "be opened" as Jesus breathed in prayer over the man with hearing loss and a speech impediment in Mark's Gospel reading.  Aside from the wonderful message of living to be spiritually opened that I derived from the reading, however, it also made me take pause to wonder about the content in a more literal sense.

I have a friend with a son who was born with profound hearing loss in both ears.  She and her husband have made a world of sound for him through cochlear implant surgery - the marvels of modern technology are astounding - and I know he has brought them a world of joy.  But as I listened to the Gospel reading on Sunday, I wondered...

How does God choose who is to be opened?

I wasn't wondering this in an accusatory fashion (shades of Bitter Betty from a former life were nowhere to be seen)
but truly just wondering.

How did the man in the Gospel reading get chosen to be opened but my friend's son did not?
How did my son's pancreas not get chosen to be opened to healing and insulin production?
How did my daughter's spinal column not get chosen to be healed of it's curves?
How did another two of my nearest and dearest not have their children chosen to be relieved of their Asperger's and PDD?
What's that ever elusive lottery number we've not been revealed?

I can't tell you the number of people I've known throughout the years with a child who has a special physical, mental, or emotional need of some sort...
Friends, sisters, cousins, colleagues, acquaintances all with a common prayer.
That their child will be chosen.
That their child will be opened.

Some children have been clinically worse than others.
Some families have the financial ability to help and others have the ability to simply cover them with love.
So many women...
So much loss...
So many to comfort and support...
So many to call to empathize....
So many to pray for and to pray for me in return....
So much community.

Do you see as my list continues what was revealed to me?

We - as community - have effectively been chosen,
opened to His Word and His Will through these children.
We - as community - might never have found each other and
the strength of His love through one another if it weren't for His choice.

So in reality, our children were chosen.
But not as an example of loss.
They were chosen to serve as a bond for community to be strengthened.

They were chosen by Him to serve as a link...
A lesson...
A light in our unconscious darkness.

We, through our children, have been opened to a faith
we might have never known.
We, through our chosen ones, have strengthened our community
with the light of His love.
We, through community, have been called to openly bless others who feel -
at one point or another - like they were not chosen.

Oh, to be chosen in this way.
My heart is full of thanks...
and open to every other blessing He has in store.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Open Sesame - Part I

As I looked over at my 12 year old boy and the darling red-headed girl serving the altar next to him on Sunday, I caught them both with their mouths wide open, the lethargy from the heat and the ritual expressing itself in an enormous yawn.  I thought wryly to myself, "I don't believe that was what Jesus meant when he said "Eph'phatha" (or 'be opened') in the Gospel reading today."  Hilarious...

I love that reading. 

The one where Jesus takes the man aside and heals him. 
The man with the hearing loss and the speech impediment. 
The man who is likely ostracized by community for his brokenness.
The man who stands in faith as our Lord sticks
his very own fingers in the damaged ears, spits, touches his tongue and sighs,
"Eph'phatha" - be opened -
as He looks up to Heaven.
The man who miraculously regains his hearing and speaks plainly.
The man whose ears open.
The man whose mouth opens.

Oh, how his heart was open for this change to take place.

I want "Eph'phatha."
I want to be opened.
I want my brokenness to be healed.
I want to lay aside my fears and stand in faith.
I want Jesus to whisper to Heaven on my behalf.
I want my ears to be opened to His Word and His life.
I want my tongue to be loosed to proclaim His glory.

I want to walk away from my time with Him each day
knowing that a miracle has occurred.

I pray for "Eph'phatha" each day.
I pray to stay open to His changes in my heart.




Sunday, September 9, 2012

1000 Gifts Sunday

In no particular chronological order for once, here are my most appreciated moments from this week.  My continuing thanks to Ann Voskamp for my beautiful weekly challenge. I hope you all find a few moments in your week to reflect and find the things for which you are most grateful.

Gratitudes #445 - 475


Even the 91 freeway can look glorious
#445  An incredible sunset tonight with Colleen (thanks for thinking to snap the pic, Coll!)
#446  Rays of light like a painted picture out of an artists' imagination
#447  Shadowing Bill in rehearsal
#448  Looking forward to directing The Young Americans abroad on tour next January
#449  Lots of great kids, great singers, great dancers...eager, wide-eyed, precious
#450  Seeing Nikki perform...cute fishy
#451  Helping Jessica with her house
#452  Shopping!!!
#453  A beautiful painted leaf
#454  Cute bird pictures, matted, framed, & hung
#455  New sheets & bedding...new bedding = always GOOD!!!
#456  Kids back to school, but home with enough time to enjoy them
#457  Good meetings, good ideas, good opportunities
#458  Seeing an old friend for coffee & music talk
#459  Reading at Mass
#460  Listening to Colleen sing, raising her voice in faith
#461  Drew playing drums
#462  Cooking dinner, enjoying it together around the table
#463  Reading, praying, celebrating joy in Him
#464  A great future
#465  Bill, Robyn and Lizzie
#466  Devotionals & Scripture, reading my heart 
#467  Discovering "Downton Abbey" - whoa, now I get what all the fuss has been about
#468  The smell of fresh laundry
#469  Finding peace in quiet mornings, coffee and lit candles
#470  English accents 
#471  Freshly baked chocolate chip oatmeal cookies...Lord knows, my girl can bake!  Yum!!
#472  My Braden's beautiful face...oh, I'm gonna miss it when he grows and loses his smooth, hairless cheeks
#473  Him becoming more responsible for his health...so proud
#474  Long Sunday morning talking to Drew...my favorite



And at very long last...

#475  Launching the website...today!!!! 
(Link to follow next week...)

{I hope your week was beautiful...
that the next is as well...
and that the coming ones bring you great joy and peace.
Thanks for reading.}

Saturday, September 8, 2012

My Digital Scale (aka "The Enemy")

Cover it...please!
It seems strange that I have already reached
a stage of personal vanity so soon after Daddy's passing.
 
At the time, as I ate for comfort from my grief, I simply didn't care...
About my appearance,
About my weight,
About others' perception of me,
or
About the circumference of my thighs.
In the grand scheme of life and death, and the greatest loss of my life,
it truly did not matter to me. 
Quite honestly, in those months of sorrow,
it felt like it would never matter again.
 

I can understand why it is Jewish tradition while sitting Shiva, the 7 day period of mourning following the funeral of an immediate family member, that all of the mirrors in the house are covered.  They drape them in an effort to discourage the vanity of outward manifestations of their mourning while instead encouraging inward reflection.  (I'm personally feeling at the present time that this practice should be instated in my home year-round!)

But as the tide ever returns to the sea,
so the ebb and flow of our lives eventually return to normal after a loss.
It was with great joy, then, after weeks of following a pretty strict regime of P90X workouts and good nutrition, that I sent out an email to my nearest and dearest that I had lost three pounds last week. 
It was exciting and it did matter again. 
Shocking!

This morning I arose and weighed again - one week later -
to find that two of those three little boogers had crept back on
silently in the past seven days.
Ugh...
Yuck...
Phooey...
I hate that it mattered.

No sooner had I weighed and observed the results with great disgust
than I plopped heavily (pun intended) in my favorite seat to read, in discouragement, my daily devotion.  The words:

"Accept each day exactly as it comes to you.  By that, I mean not only the circumstances of your day, but also the condition of your body."

What????????
Come on! 
Are you kidding me that this is my message
not minutes after my disappointing discovery?!?!? 
Whoa...so blown away....

After I sufficiently reacted, (Italian interpretation:  laughed aloud and made wild gestures with my hands), I continued reading:

"On some days, your circumstances and your physical condition feel out of balance.  Even if you wrongly choose (giving up), I will not reject you.  You can turn to me at any point, and I will help you crawl out of the mire of discouragement."

Wow...
Thank you, God, for acknowledging even my seemingly petty problems
as those worthy of Your time and support. 
For showing I can lean on You even in the midst of worldy cares.
For showing I can be strong with Your help in the throws of disappointment.
For promising to lift me out of the muck and the mire.

(And You know I could sink fast these days with
the additional mass of these thighs weighing me down!
Throw me a Lifeline...fast!)





Thursday, September 6, 2012

When It's Okay to Show Off

There are two unrelated facts you must know in order for this post to make sense:

1.  Since my dad's passing in May, the Scripture verse that I most associate him with is "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends."  Long story that I don't have room for...you just need to know that fact.  And don't ask me the chapter or verse...I'm terrible at remembering them.

2.  There is a line from the movie, "Bruce Almighty," that my husband and I love.  At the end of the movie, when Bruce wakes up in the hospital after what should have been a fatal accident - he was hit by a semi-truck after all - he finds his estranged girlfriend beside him, his earthly worries and problems resolved and in his hand, a bracelet of prayer beads.  What is remarkable about the bracelet is that he had thrown it away early in the movie when he was terribly down on his luck.  So to have the beads again, a gift from Grace, his girlfriend, was the final miracle.  He looks up to Heaven and whispers, "Well, now you're just showin' off."

I mentioned in my blog yesterday that the kids went back to school after a wonderful summer together.  I was sorry to see them go...truly.  I wasn't ready to be alone in the house again.  To be frank, part of me was a bit concerned about not having the kids around the house as a distraction for my intermittent grief.  Their joy has really alleviated much of this for me.

But I decided to not dwell and just do my thang.

I read a lovely devotional entry from Sarah Young about God being our King but also our friend, walking down the road of our lives with us.  I grabbed my bible to look up the corresponding Scripture verses. 
The first was John 15:13-15. 
My bible fell open to this...

Daddy still talking to me in my need...

 
There tucked in the pages of John (Daddy's favorite gospel)
was the picture of Daddy I pull out each morning, kiss,
then say, "Good morning, Daddy.
But I never realized his picture was on the very page of "his" verse.
John 15:13-15 read in part,
"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends."   
I burst out laughing - and crying - at the same time
(it's amazing that those can be simultaneous),
looked up and said aloud, "Now you're just showin' off!"

So when is it okay to show off?

When you're the Creator of the Universe...
When His servant needs Him to illustrate that
He is in charge of every moment...
Every need...
Every calling...
Every question...
Every longing.

I long for that kind of showing off every day.

Airing Dirty Laundry

I got my kids off to their first day of school today.  In the wake of a new season, this was what greeted me as I kissed the last head going out the door...


I guess if I don't organize the Tupperware, it doesn't get done!

This was actually after I had done half of them
& stopped to fix a lunch...
nice half eaten banana hanging over the side of the sink. :)

One load in the washer...one load here...three more after that!
Aaaarrrrrggggghhhhh!!!!!

I'd like to officially announce the bane of my existence...paperwork!!! 
This is two days worth of mail. 
You can't see the other three stacks I still have to finish. 
And that's my half-started grocery list on the left, by the way. 
Gotta fit shopping in today too.

Even my desk needs attention today!

Have I mentioned that I am Italian and cherish order?
That I compulsively love to organize and clean?
That just the other day, I was at my mother-in-law's house and had to turn the toilet paper in the opposite direction
(the "right" way, paper coming over the roll,
not behind it)
or else I couldn't move ahead with my day?

So you can imagine what I did when the kids left...
Or can you?



Vanilla & cinnamon & mocha...
mmmmm!

Lit and shining on one of my favorite gifts...
a beautiful, wooden plate brought back to
my husband and me from the Holy Land.
 
 
Steaming Starbucks Cafe Verona dark with sweet Italian creamer...

Where I spend most of my time
Writing...
Praying...
Imagining...
Communing...

With my favorite pillow, throw, devotionals & Word

 
I lit candles...
Made a cup of coffee in my favorite mug, a gift from my beautiful sister, Christine...
Pulled out my favorite, cozy orange blanket
(even though it's supposed to be in the 80's today,
it was raining when the kids left)
and my daily devotionals
(which I had already read but hadn't absorbed
in the hullabaloo of first day of school rushing and anxiety)...
And I accepted His invitation to spend time together.

You see, I knew if I plunged into my day to simply eradicate the chaos,
I would be plagued by a different kind of mess all day.
The mess of doing it alone.
The mess of depending only on myself.
The mess of impatience and complaint and thanklessness.

So instead I looked to my right when I sat, noticed these words...



Peace...
Serenity...
Calm...


...and I knew I made the right decision.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

1000 Gifts Sunday...er, Tuesday

Apparently I decided to celebrate the Labor Day weekend by not laboring at all...which will be my #408 gift!  We had a wonderful weekend visiting Drew's mom and old friends from Drew's hometown.  I hope all of you had an equally blessed long weekend.  My continuing thanks to Ann Voskamp for this beautiful weekly challenge.  I hope you all find a few moments in your week to reflect and find the things for which you are most grateful.


Gratitudes #408 - 444
(whew...& Hallelujah!  Lots to be grateful for!)

#408  A long weekend with no labor
#409  Faculty meeting with an incredible curriculum planning committee...my previous college teaching position continues with such an inspired group leading the students 
#410  Thinking, planning, collaborating with other educators...so stimulating!
#411  Laughing and discussing profound educational philosophies with Jessica, David, Kim, Ariel and Yannick
#412  An exciting after-meeting with Don
#413  Surviving the loss of my wedding ring stone...knowing that my marriage means more than that diamond
#414  Creating new jobs for myself...summoning courage
#415  Receptivity
#416  Mama's time away with her sister...getting nightly updates
#417   Birds & branches
#418  A day with Jessica and her girls
#419  Watching them "sew" on the gorgeous, pink rag-rug
#420  A beautiful play space for Francesca and Sofia
#421  Tacos, laughter & Hailey's incredible dog rescue story! (Long story short, Jess' daughter found a dog with no owner and later discovered her 5 newborn puppies under a bush - during a 10PM search in pajamas - where "Hope" had hidden them to protect them!  All five doggies are now safe and sound with a foster family.  Thank you, Hailey, for your loving spirit and showing kindness to all of His creatures!)







#422  Wedding plans for my sister, Margaret
#423  Loving planning...loving beauty...loving sharing that happiness with others
#424  An evening, sleepover and next day with Nikki...loving that she loves my girl...loving that she loves my boy...loving that she feels like part of the family.  (Have a great time on tour, Nikki! Come back soon!)
Delish!
#425  Homemade Italian sausage sauce and pasta steaming in bowls on our laps
#426  The most amazing grilled salmon salad with Farmer's Market vegetables 
#427  Seeing Bill, Robyn and Lizzie after weeks away
#428  Being welcomed excitedly into a position writing for my favorite organization!
#429  Mary Leist...love this woman

#430  Colleen passing her permit test...
#429  ...and then her first lesson...
Way to go, Colleen!  She's already doing SOOOOO great!
#430  ...and then carting us around all weekend!
#431  A day of swimming and visiting at the Miners
#432  Going "home" to Apple Valley...so glad to be with my mother-in-law in her home
#433  Cleaning, sorting, getting Diane's house ready to be sold
#434  Feeling useful...helping...using my hands & heart to work as family
#435  Being proud of my gorgeous husband
#436  A new year of meet & greet for the Young Americans
#437  Seeing new generations of my friends' kids continuing the tradition
#438  New seasons
#439  An exciting writing gig
#440  Continuing work on the website...should I stop "chasing perfect" and release it?  Probably...
#441  Messages for my friends and family from Mass
#442  Loving my life
#443  Loving my Lord
#444  Loving my family


{I hope you're able to take a moment today to
think about & pray in thanksgiving for your blessings.
Have a wonderful week...}