Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Morning after Mourning

The title of this post has been dancing around in my head for a few weeks.  It started as the sprightly dance of the polka, proceeded to the classic movement of the waltz and now has become a somber funereal march from which I am trying to extricate myself.

When "Morning after Mourning" came to me, I thought how wonderful it would be if God was giving me a glimpse of such a moment in my near future. 
A morning when I awoke to find that my mourning had passed, washing me over with the light of a new day. 
I thought about how encouraging I could be to others who have endured or are still enduring their own grief. 
I thought what a blessed instrument of reassurance it would be.
I couldn't wait for the moment and the message so I could write this post, mailing off a resolution to my sorrow.

My mind has wandered here and there, far and wide waiting for that morning.
It's been peeking around the corner -  
looking around the bend -  
searching under bushes and beds frames and into rabbit holes.
Yet with all of the searching - soul and otherwise - it has not dawned.

You see, I've just realized, the morning after mourning is not going to come.

It is too difficult to quantify a morning...
or an hour...
or a moment when the grief ceases.
Like every other thing in life, it is a process.
I wish I had that summation, that resolution.
But the simple truth is that there are good days and bad.
Days when I feel Daddy near and that is enough.
Other days, when I cannot handle the thought of my life without my dad's physical presence beside me in some way.
Then when I consider that I likely have another 44 years without him...
his humor...
his brilliant baby blues...
his lined, productive, hard-working hands to hold...
his voice saying, "Tell me what's troubling you, child,"
it's almost too much to bear.

Yet I do think that there is intention in the message of this phrase.
And I think the message is that morning itself will always come.
Morning, a new time to think and dream and praise and glorify.
Morning, a new opportunity for growth and abundance and hope and breath.
Morning, a new stage of prayer and loving and peace and Him.

Even in my times of radical grief, He is there in the morning.
In the sunlight or the fog, the heat or the chill.
In the air and the Spirit, the light and the grace.
He is there.

He is there in the mourning.
He is there in the morning.
Morning after morning after morning after morning.....

{I so appreciate your continued prayers
during this time of enduring grief.
I would like to pray for you as well.
Please leave your intentions in the comments below.
I will gladly add them to my prayer box.}

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


We have lived in our house for eleven years now and have a wonderful community of families here with whom we have been privileged to befriend and share life.  Our next door neighbors have been the most special part of this equation for us.  Our kids have grown up together...their girls, one in college and the other a Senior in high school have shared swimming, water polo and friendships with our daughter.  Sleepovers, babysitting, dinner together, both at home and out of the house have been things we have all enjoyed together.  Most frequently, though, we share a common back wall where we borrow eggs and sugar, taste each other's dinner samples, pass over smoothies and books and words and news, using that brick and mortar to keep each other appraised of one another's lives.

Last week the daddy was sick, the mama, tired, and the girls were overwhelmed.  Things were a bit chaotic.  Riley came to sleep over while her parents spent some time figuring out the course.  We love having Riley here.  She is a light in the dark.  She is cheer personified.

I was deep in prayer all evening and into the night then again when I woke up this morning. 
I prayed for healing for him. 
Strength for my dear friend. 
Peace for the girls. 
I added all of these intentions to my prayer box.
I prayed that God show me what I could do to help.

We all visited into the night then the girls went to bed, arising early to get ready for school.  We talked and laughed as they ate breakfast, brushed hair, put on know the drill.  I sat in my familiar morning spot and settled down for a moment to read.  Riley was standing in front of me when I looked up suddenly at her to share.  "Listen to the first line of my daily reading this morning," I said.

"Love does no harm to its neighbor."

"Uh-uh!" she said and as Colleen entered the room, Riley hollered, "Listen to this Coll!"  I reread it, and we all just looked at each other with our mouths open.  I continued, "Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law." 

The last line continued, "Your responsibility is to remain calm and peaceable even when those around you are not."

The message was clear. 
Though chaos abounded, we were to stay calm, trust, and rest in the knowledge that there is a path and a plan. 
We were supposed to remain at peace knowing He's got it.

Riley said, "That seems like such a great book.  What is it?"
"Your Best Life Begins each Morning," I replied.
"That's neat," she said.

So tomorrow I'm headed to Target to pick up a copy for her. 
One little thing He's encouraging me to do for her during this time. 
Thank You, Jesus, for the guidance and for taking care of this special family.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

1000 Gifts Sunday

Thank you, Ann Voskamp and A Holy Experience, for the encouragement to share the joys and thanksgivings of my life.  This weekly posting is my opportunity to think back over all of the many ways I am blessed each day.  I encourage each of you readers to do the same...a great way to start your week...humbled, grateful and full of the Holy Spirit.   

Gratitudes #671 - 703

#671  Sitting in front of Shawn P. and his boys in church, raising our voices together in song just like 25 years ago in Young Americans
#672  My daughter singing the profound **first verse** to "Jesus, Be My Everything", the meaning mirroring her life.  (Tears!)
#673  1/2 caf, double, tall Cinnamon Dolce latte for fall
#674  Knowing that going to the movies with my husband, spending time together, is more important than any work I could possibly get done
#675  Argo...AMAZING!
#676  A visit with Neysha and Aiden...doing puzzles with that precious boy!
#677  Some work until 2AM paying off in quality
#678  Enduring a project rejection, staying firm in my faith that God will provide the way
#679  Real Southern food in Southern California, no less!  Lordie be, that pork brisket was incredible
#680  A sleepover for Riley at our house
#681  Our neighbors
#682  My husband and his many, many talents
#683  Smoked Fontina cheese...cannot. take. it.
#684  The Word all around me
#685  My migraine abating
#686  Laughing with Colleen and Braden
#687  Finishing all of my paperwork...for once!!!  (The bane of my existence!!)
#688  Lunch date with my husband during the week...artichoke & pesto pizza...delish!
#689  A good hair day...finally...
#690  Working out, sweating out the worry
#691  Fix-it day at the house
#692  A newly refurbished shower light
#693  Decorating the house for fall, my favorite season, with Colleen

#694 Honest, transparent prayers for discernment - knowing that finally in my life, I only want to do what He wants
#695  Ghirardelli 70% dark chocolate with sea salt and almonds...uh uh...
#696  My girl enjoying the high school football game with friends and her Focus group
#697  Filming Braden's America's Got Talent audition
#698  Finding out that Nikki made the UK tour in the spring...the one I'm blessed to be able to spend this time with her
#699  Bill, Robyn and Lizzie
#700  My beautiful Lisa Avery and her birthday today
#701  Grace from the Father to fill my sorrowful heart
#702  The Holy Spirit coming to me in my prayer life, just in time, filling me with Light
#703  Being told to just ask in the Gospel today:  "What do you want me to do for you?" (Mark 10)  An answered prayer.

{Thanks to each of you as always for your care & support...
your readership...
your gift of time.
As we enter November, the month of the Thanksgiving holiday, 
I encourage you to look at your many blessings,
the hope and health in your life
& the everyday tiny things that make life worth living.
 Then offer a prayers of thanks.}

**  (lyrics to song noted above)  **
"I've been looking for a reason.
I've been longing for a purpose.
Losing all my meaning...
I've run out of excuses.

Lord it's hard to know you.
I don't always see your plan.
But holiness is calling me,
So take me as I am.

'Cause you are my everything.
You are the song I sing.
I'll do anything for you.
Teach me how to pray...
To live a life of grace...
I'll go anywhere for you.
Jesus be my everything."


Friday, October 26, 2012

The Fickle and the Fantastic

I awoke this morning, saw my daughter off to school, turned all of the lights she had turned on, off (she turns on every single light in the house in an effort to wake up in the morning...hilarious) and opened the shade to the window where I sit in the mornings. 

I had an extra few minutes to enjoy the silence before time to wake my son. 
I read through some lovely passages from other writers then just breathed,
looking at my magnolia tree through the glass. 
I spied my husband walking up from his morning run. 
I watched him for a few (I know, I know...stalker)
but relished in the moment of catching him in "his place" -

Energized, but spent...
Strong but weak...
Full of his own quiet thoughts and dreams.

Then I went and looked in on my son asleep in his bed, realizing that he's finally stretched out to the maximum of his little twin. 
I reveled a moment in his ginormousness before rubbing his back,
"I love you, buddy.  Time to wake up,"
grabbed his school clothes and started ironing, a huge smile on my face, just so filled with gratitude for my simple, blessed and beautiful life.

I stopped ironing all of a sudden.
My migraine was gone!!
It took me an hour to realize that the fog from the last few days of pain had lifted.
Prayers of thanksgiving ensued before a realization occurred...

How fickle we human beings are made.
Just yesterday I was writhing on the couch with my head in my hands
(okay, okay, writhing is a bit strong...but it makes for a better story, no?), wondering when a reprieve from the 36 hours of ache would commence.
How I was feeling that those 36 hours were interminable.
How I was wondering why God let the pain go on and on.
How I was planning what I would do the next day to survive it.
no pain...
only the blessing of forgetfulness.

Yet I didn't even notice at first, such is the capacity for humans to forget their suffering so quickly after it has been endured.
(Isn't that why they say women continue to give birth multiple times, even after the excruciating circumstances of the first delivery?  God has given us the gift of obliviousness!)

And there is my lesson for the day.
It is a miracle of human nature to tamp down those hurts which have flattened us, getting up from our prone positions in a phenomenon of resilience.
Yet we do not only find these recoveries after illnesses of our bodies.
We find them also after illnesses of our souls and spirits.

The death of a loved one...
The betrayal of a friend...
The anger and lashing out of a child...
The financial ruin of a family.

Though they are difficult lessons, I believe all of these ailments in our lives are gifts from our Heavenly Father, Who knows we must often reach bottom in order to rise up again.
For though there are times we feel we may never recover (remember, we're erratic and suddenly changeable, vastly limited by our earthly timetable), 
God gives up glimpses of hope through our suffering in order to spur us on to seek healing, to seek Him.
Once we have recovered sufficiently, He allows us to peek into the past, reminding us of how far we've come with Him in faith.
He asks us to not stare backward to relive our grief and pain.
Yet He then gifts us with the ability to flash there and back occasionally in a revelation of His blessing.

How fabulous the human mind.
How fickle but fantastic is this capacity.
What a miracle of our Beloved to give us this gift...
The gift of amnesia for life's pain coupled with the nostalgia of deliverance.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Rest, Child

Oh, my favorite daily messages are the ones that assuage my guilt (which is often unreasonable) and let me off the proverbial hook onto which I hang myself so frequently.

Case in point...

My body has been fighting off some kind of infection for the past week.
Sometimes I feel okay.
Sometimes I feel a bit under.
And then there are the days, like yesterday, that it hit me rather hard.
Shivering under a blanket (it was 77 degrees in the house),
terrible migraine...
all in all, a mess.

I took some NyQuil and hit the hay at 9:30PM.
When I awoke at 6:50, I knew it was not over.
God bless my beautiful husband who told me to stay in bed while he took it upon himself to do all of the myriad chores and daily preparations that I usually do myself.
He's such a lovely spirit...I knew he was doing all of this out of concern for me and my health, and doing it unconditionally.
Yet there I lie, beating myself up for not jumping out of bed to take care of all of it myself.

When did we get to a place in our culture that we beat ourselves up for being sick?
Ugh...that in itself is a sickness.

Anyway, the family went off to their respective experiences and I got up an hour later...
Still feeling guilty...
Still feeling "less"...
Still being hard on myself.

I stopped at my usual spot to read my devotionals, wrapped in a blanket and shivering, but wondering what the Lord had in store for this quiet day of healing.

"Lie down in green pastures of peace...I built into your very being the need for rest. How twisted the world has become when people feel guilty about meeting this basic need!"


Oh, thank You, Lord, my caregiver, my rest, my inner Peace.
Thank you for alleviating my unnecessary self-reproach.
Thank you for soothing me with the balm of Your assurance.
Thank you for harboring my spirit when it is ill and in need of healing.
Thank you for supporting my need to rest in body and in You.

{How do you need to rest today?
Forgive yourself?
Lower unreasonable expectations?
Rest in Him.}

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Simpler Ain't Necessarily Better

Some days I long for simpler times.  And no, I don't mean covered wagons, farmland and days pre-Alexander Graham Bell.  I mean I long for the simpler times of being a sinner.

The sinful times weren't very happy...
They weren't fulfilled...
Life wasn't exciting or abundant or bright.

In fact, the sinful times were devoid of joy...
They were empty...
They were hollow and dark.

But boy, were they easier!

I awoke yesterday morning under a black cloud.  No reason, I was just surrounded by ick and didn't feel particularly motivated to change it.  In fact, I decided to sanction it by announcing, "Sorry, everybody, I'm just in a bad mood."  That oughtta do the trick and let me off the hook, right?  After all, I'm entitled to a mood every now and then, yes?


The morning went from bad to worse...
Everybody was "off" and irritated.
That further ticked me off, knowing that my mood determined everyone else's...the pressure!! 
I don't want to be responsible for everyone else!

I put off reading my devotionals for as long as possible in order to maintain the darkness.  Really, another five minutes would have been a blatant "giving the finger" to God.  I thought maybe I shouldn't risk it.

God (through Sarah Young) tried to put me in check:
"To live in My presence consistently, you must expose and expel your rebellious tendencies....Try to become aware of each resentment, however petty it may seem...ask My Spirit to increase your awareness...Bring (it) boldly into the Light of My Presence so I can free you from (it)."

"Naaahhhh," I thought, "I think I'd still rather live in the dark for a few.
After all, the self-righteousness and general loathing is fun every now and then."

He hit me again:
"...when My sovereign will encroaches on your little domain of control, you often react with telltale resentment.  The best response to losses or thwarted hopes is praise: The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord."

That's low, God...hitting me with the lyrics to one of my favorite praise songs. 
The text from Job. 
The song I sing whenever I'm really down and know I need to praise....
Low, man...

"Be prepared to let go of anything I take from you, but never let go of My hand."

That cracked the exterior a bit, but I wasn't sold.  In fact, I didn't even want to go to church.  But obligation and saving face in the light of our congregation won out over my mood, so Braden and I took off.

As I was walking up to the church (late!), the choir had already started the processional song. 
What was it? 
"Blessed Be the Name of the Lord." 
I started feeling small and sorry because God was making me big and important, so hard was He seeking me to return.
That's when it hit me...

Sinning was so much simpler than battling the enemy.
I didn't have to fight so hard all the time back then.
he had his hold on me and didn't have to waste energy trying to win me over.
I was already with him.

But, as God was reminding me, simpler ain't necessarily better.

God has now blessed this warrior with a life of purpose.
As my friend, Robyn, has said to me,
"The enemy is afraid because now you're a threat. 
 So he's going to go after you at all times."
What a bully....
I hate bullies.

It reminds me of my 4th grade nemesis, Tommy Dassinger, who took every opportunity to harass me on the playground. I felt helpless.  Until one day after it rained, Tommy slipped in the mud, fell down, and his head found it's way to the area one foot in front of my shoe.  I took that black patent leather Mary Jane, wound it behind me and kicked him in the head.  (Then, of course, lied to my teacher when he told on me. I said my foot had slipped in the mud.)  Mrs. Brown loved me so much that she believed me (I know, I know I should feel badly about this...but I really don't), and Tommy never bothered me again.

Well, lucifer, I'm here...
I am a threat...
And you should be worried.
Just because simpler is, well, simpler, doesn't mean I'm taking your playground assaults.
I'm fighting this battle so worth fighting for.
I'm dustin' off my Mary Janes and waiting for your head to come into view.

You'll never know what hit ya'...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

1000 Gifts Sunday

Living in gratitude, even for the trials and challenges, is making my life stronger, more complete. Thank you, Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience, for the encouragement to share the joys.  Recalling my week of blessings makes even the most frustrating mornings better and more fulfilled.   

Gratitudes #632-670

#632    Dinner out with Evan & Lisa, Bill & Robyn, Chip & Jeree...relishing in good friendships, good memories and lasting connections
#633  Prayers for Jeree...such a wonderful woman and mother
#634 A meeting of  minds for my church charitable organization...Movement for a Better World
#635  Having the opportunity to adopt a family for the holidays over the next season...Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter...getting to bring things to a family in need to make their lives a bit easier, a bit more joyful
#636  The lesson for my children in travelling this road of giving with Drew and me
#637 Learning new skills and getting to be creative in technology...who'da thunk? 
#638  Almost 60 likes on my new "CynthiaWrites" FB page...feeling so humbled and blessed by the support of family and friends
#639  Figuring out technical issues and fixing them myself...again, who'da thunk?
#640  The development of a new idea, a new opportunity...moving forward
#641  Knowing that God is in charge, no matter how many opinions I have or how worried I am over family and friends
#642  Trusting
#643  My children's beautiful faces
#644  A newly designed little vignette for fall - love the reminders of my friendships displayed throughout my home

#645  Fall weather

#646  The twins birthdays (Mae-Mae and Car-Car)...remembering babysitting them when they were just a few months old...knowing now they've grown into mature, beautiful women...being proud to be their aunt
#647  A visit with my dearest, Lisa
#648  Sharing
#649  Emilee being here with Colleen - finding joy in the fact that my girl has a true, fast friend forever
#650  Colleen talking to me and sharing with me, asking my help and advice (Priceless!)
#651  Early morning prayer
#652  Helping move Annie in...knowing we can all rely on each other for help in our need...loving giving back to her
#653  Mary Leist and her messages
#654  A fun afternoon texting with Tiff...happy memories in the old days
#655  A new grey and white basket...organizing newspapers and magazines
#656  Remembering my Mema, her good and gracious spirit
#657  Fresh flowers & lit candles
#658  Touching base with Becky
#659  Touching base with Julie
#660  Katie's birthday and new earrings  (After singing her the birthday song and wishing her a Happy Birthday, the final exchange...Me: "We love you, Katie!"  Katie: "I know!" Best response ever!!!)  The tooth kills me!
#661  Kat & Joe's news!!
#662  Getting to talk to Margaret, knowing that she's happy in her new married life
#663  A great, cathartic phone call with Miley...knowing that my verbal vomit will not deter her from talking to me...sooooo grateful!!
#664  A bird on a branch
#665  Fall decorating
#666  Braden's desire to make a video audition tape...loving that he is energized to move on in his singing
#667  Listening to Colleen sing in the shower
#668  Colleen's English paper...getting to share in her thoughts, her beautiful dreams, her amazing spirit
#669  My boy and my guy getting to enjoy the football game together...bonding over their team
#670  Overcoming waking up in a terrible mood..."with God, all things are possible!"  Amen!!

{Thanks to all of you for reading...
for commenting...
for thinking of your own gratitudes & lifting them up in thanksgiving.
Thanks also for your continued support and commitment,
all of which make this labor of love 
& every moment, every hour spent writing worth it!}

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Coming Home

When I was a young woman, from about the ages of 18-25, my dad would find an opportunity at least once a year to remind me, "You know, you can always come home."

Now me being me, a headstrong know-it-all who had moved to California on her own at the age of 17, I would exclaim, "Why would I want to do that?!?"

And my dad, knowing me as he did, all headstrong on the top but soft and anxious underneath it all, would reply, "You might never want to.  I just think it's really important for you to know that no matter what you do, how bad things get, or how scared you are, you aren't alone.  You'll always be welcome.  You can always come home."

The ultimate promise to a prodigal daughter.

I've been thinking about that alot lately.
It's probably because my daughter turns 16 next month,
and the vision of her flying free can now be seen on the distant horizon.
I shared with her those thoughts from her dear, darling Grandpa Joe.

She looked at me and said, "No offense,  Mama, but once I'm gone, I can't imagine I'd ever want to come back."
And I said, "No offense to you either, Colleen, but once you're gone, I don't want you to!"
We laughed and laughed.
Then I told her in all seriousness that,
though my job was to prepare her to take on life as an adult,
sometimes there are bumps along the road
(or seemingly unscalable mountains in many cases)
so I never wanted her to feel as though she was out of options.

I held out many times in dark circumstances with the light of Daddy's words shining a clear path for me.

Now don't get me wrong...
I don't believe Daddy was inviting me to come home, stay rent free and live off of them because of bad decisions on my part.
Daddy was usually tough love at its finest.
He and Mama once lent me $1500 to buy my first car,
a beautiful, shiny candy-apple red Volkswagen Beetle I named "Candace."

When I had received the money and was ready to make the transaction,
Daddy called me at my apartment,
which he NEVER did,
told me that he expected me to have a check for $150
at their house by the 15th of every month for the next 10 months. 
They wouldn't charge me interest
which, of course, he reminded me was not the norm for a loan and was a privelege.

"If the check is not in our hands by the 15th of every month,
if you are even a day late, I will personally fly out to California
and drive that car back to Alabama.  Do you understand me?"

"Yes, sir," I remember saying in a small voice, the pleasure of the moment AND the purchase being doused by the cold water of his very real threat.
Years later, I am eternally grateful for that lesson.
(And no, I was never even a day late!)

But despite these moments of tough, real, raw love
from a tough, real, raw, beautiful man,
I knew the depths of his heart. 
I knew that no matter what,
I could count on him understanding...
being there for me...
welcoming me home...
home within his heart.

Isn't it funny how "coming home" sounds so much more warm and welcoming than "going home"?

And so I reflect on this man's invitation to me,
one that I almost took him up on about a dozen times,
and realize that my father's love was so much like my Father's love. 
Simple and warm....
Unconditional and sincere...
Offered again and again and again and again
until I understood it and accepted it in the very recesses of my being.

How awesome and consoling to know that,
no matter what I do or say...
how bad or lonely or frightening or anxious things get...
No matter how old or fat or obnoxious or transparent or loving or kind or funny or sad I am...
No matter what the circumstances...

I know I can always come Home.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Living Joy

There is a single word that has been popping up all around me for the past few days...

It has been in the Scripture I've been reading...
It has been the subject of discussion on websites...
It is, I've decided, the Word that will be printed on my Christmas cards this year.

It is a word that is often misused as a description but once witnessed in its truest form, has the ability to transform your day, your attitude, your direction, your very spirit.

It is Joy.

I was racking my brain earlier this morning, trying to recall a conversation I had recently about someone...couldn't remember about whom or with whom I had it.  I just remembered saying, "She is joy."

Then it came to me, and I rushed to the kitchen to retrieve the picture that had been given to me, prompting that forgotten conversation.  I picked it up and actually exclaimed aloud, her face took my breath away...

This is a picture of my mother and her family circa 1950's.  (My mom is the bathing beauty seated at bottom.)  Mama gave me a copy when I went home recently, and we were laughing at the fashion (what is my uncle wearing as his bathing suit?!?); at my grandfather's stoic expression (on beach day, no less!); at great-grandma's support hose and black shoes. 

Then amidst the amusement, my gaze settled on my grandmother in the top middle.  My eyes filled with tears, I looked at Mama and sighed, "Look at Mema.  She is joy."

Joy is not cheerfulness.
Joy is not happiness.
It is not delight, optimism or gladness.
These are all attitudes or reactions or feelings for which we strive.
They are good...they are just not joy.

No, joy is intangible.
It is deep seated and comes from the very recesses of our being.
It is an ineffable quality that draws others in.
It is the Spirit.

Mema had it. 
There was rarely a moment that her eyes were not dancing or her arms not pulling you in or her lips not speaking encouragement. 
She shone. 
Her faith beamed out of every pore. 

She chose joy...because she chose Him.

I want joy.
I want to speak words of faith and encouragement.
I want to let Him into every fiber of my being, every moment of my world, every thought and every action.
I want to exude His light and love.
I want to embrace His word and truth.
I want to have that "something" - that "it" - that "quality" that lights the way for others.

I want to live like Mema.
I want to

Monday, October 15, 2012

1000 Gifts Sunday

So much thanksgiving for all of my gifts and blessings. Life just gets better and better. Living in gratitude, even for the trials and challenges.  Thanks to Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience!

Gratitudes #603-631

#603  Honoring birthdays for some of my favorite & friends
#604  My beautiful, Christine
#605  My dear Jeff
#606  My blessed mother-in-law, Diane's, 70th celebration, a boat ride & visiting
#607  Maddie coming home from college for the first time
#608  The thoughtfulness she showed in shopping for and packing birthday gifts for me and my kids...all while in a new city, at a new school, with a new schedule...what a girl!
#609  Manning the table at church for Feed-a-Baby Sunday...raising over $1100 for these little ones in need
#610  An incredible 7:30AM service with Braden serving
#611  A heartfelt homily by Deacon Shane
#612  Being asked to lector at the 8:00AM service on Thursday for the 1st time...realizing I have the autonomy to serve when needed
#613  A delicious meal at Campanile in LA...ooh, that Bibb salad was goooood!!
#614  Colleen and Braden loving Lizzie, helping take care of her so we could spend time with her parents
#615  Annie suggesting and coming over for a Tuesday morning workout
#616  Miley's special birthday...can't wait to celebrate!
#617  Shopping for gifts for those I love
#618  Writing for a new company...a great learning experience
#619  My beautiful Lisa Avery....a surprise night of dinner with her and Evan...laughing and catching grateful for her life and friendship
#620  Drew taking over for me by going to the Parent's Religious Ed orientation so I could work
#621  EVERY MOMENT spent with my husband this week...realizing I'm the luckiest woman alive
#622  A long conversation with Mama...then another one with my sister, Theresa, the next good to chat
#623  Laundry
#624  Marble cake
#625  Wearing a favorite dress and platform shoes!
#626  "Midnight in Paris" with some family
#627  Missing Daddy but knowing that he's with me
#628  My dear Joanie
#629  A business venture taking shape
#630  And last but not least...the pride in months of work finally being completed with the launch of my new website...CynthiaWrites!
#631  (And it's corresponding FB page..."like it" if you have a moment and an account please?)

{Many thanks for reading...
for travelling this journey with me...
for your stories, comments, shares and likes...
for taking part in this, the ministry of my heart.
Have a blessed week!}

Friday, October 12, 2012

Faithfully Fastidious Fridays

Okay, the post today was prompted by a funny exchange Drew and I had last week. 

I said to him, "Oooh, I'm soooo excited - it's Thursday!  And on Thursdays I go out to our studio, do all of the laundry, sort paperwork and pay bills while watching design shows."  I'm working but it's almost like a day off!

He just looked at me with this little smirk and said, "You are so cute."

I said, "What?  Is that weird?!?  I just really love taking a break from everything else on Thursdays and doing mindless work.  And then at the end, everything is done, everything is clean and everything is organized."  I really was doing a little happy dance in my kitchen.

He just shook his head, laughed and said again, "You are so cute."

It dawned on me then that I truly do feel so happy...
When things are clean and organized.
It's like the stress of something ugly hanging over my head dissipates, and I am able to breathe again.

So I thought every now and then I would use this forum to give you a tip for what makes me feel sunny or peaceful in the way of the homestead and help you get your head on right as well.
I thought the term Faithfully Fastidious Fridays pretty much summed it up.

Short and sweet (from hereafter) -
just one tiny thing that may make your life easier and more focused...
so that you in turn can focus on That which truly matters.

So I'm starting small and simple and stealing, actually, from another blogger (who said she stole it from another blogger) an idea that I thought was ridiculous until I tried it.

Keep your kitchen sink clean.

("Whaaa????  Are you kidding?  Thats' it?!?!" I thought.  But it truly worked once I tried it. ) The idea is that if you clean your kitchen sink at the start of your day, everything will just kind of fall into place for staying organized. 
Look here...

When my sink looks like this, I'll tell you I'm a heck of a lot more inclined to not leave anything dirty in it. (I even wipe around the rim and counter so it stays sparkly! :) 

So, when in doubt, when you're feeling overwhelmed or cranky with all you have to do in your house...
Clean your kitchen sink!
And see if it doesn't help your outlook change, even by a little.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Song of the Washer Woman

I never thought I'd feel grateful for the laundry.

In some of my less honorable conversations with my husband a few years ago, when things were frustrated and tired and muddled, I would bemoan my life as a working mom, teaching half of the time, taking care of the family half of the time, volunteering half of the time and not doing any of it well any of the time. 

(For you brilliant mathematicians out there, you may have noticed that my time equaled all plus a half, and that's exactly what it felt like!) 

I would complain about the fact that no one helped me with the housework,
no one did their chores,

no one did the grocery shopping,
no one did the laundry,
no one even replaced a roll of toilet paper when they finished it. 

I would complain and complain and nag and holler while my poor husband was forced to sit and listen (Heaven help him if he walked away!).  My tirade would generally finish with, "I feel like nothing more than a washer woman!"  (That's an angry exclamation point, by the way  - not an enthusiastic case you couldn't detect the tone.)

That feeling seems like a lifetime away from now. Don't get me's not that I love doing laundry per se.  But the little things that were such an enormous annoyance before are simply no big deal now. 

Now it could be argued that because my schedule has freed up so much without steady work, the laundry doesn't seem overwhelming anymore.
It could be argued that my kids are older and help out more.
It could be argued that without my job, we have less so little things mean more.
These are all part of the equation I'm sure.

But the real reason for the whistling while I work is that my perspective has changed.
Laundry is simply part of my *sacred mundane.
A gift to me from my Heavenly Father...
An opportunity to take care of my family.
The clothes are a gift.
The machines are a gift.
The water is a gift.
The time available to take care of it all...a gift.

A passage from Sarah Young yesterday reminded me of this change...

"You can ventilate safely to Me because talking with Me tempers your thoughts and helps you see things from My perspective.  Complaining to others is another matter altogether.  It opens the door to deadly sins such as self-pity and rage.  Whenever you are tempted to grumble, come to Me and talk it out.  As you open up to Me, I will put My thoughts in your mind and My song in your heart."

Oh, His beautiful song to the washer woman.
The tune that sings its way out through my hands,
into the fibers of our clothing,
ironing out every wrinkle of life with its joy.

I thank Him for this tune I'm allowed to sing...
Such a beautiful melody He's put in my heart.

Photo credits:  Microsoft Word photograph images

*Special thanks to Kari Patterson for the term "Sacred Mundane," her blog title, which has wedged its way into my heart.