Monday, December 28, 2009


Words have stinging power when tongues are unloosed and lips are unguarded. Words flow freely out of unintentional mouths. I shudder to think how my careless utterings must pierce the heart of God. Out of habit, how easily complaints and grumblings spew forth over little incidents. When His gifts rain down, I soak them up and then wring them out as refuse.

Baby wakes in the night.  Grumble.  Boys yell in the house.  Sigh.   Grocery bill strains the purse strings.  Whine.  Cups spill, plates tip, crumbs scatter.  Nag. 

Why, when He has given much, do I require more?  For when I look around me, I realize I have everything to be thankful for.   My very life is a gift from Him.

What a blessing it is to read how friends are filling buckets with praise.  I read of the shared journey of motherhood and friendship and long to dip my finger in this well of goodness.  I read of  another's daily pleasures with husband and son and feel her joy that emantes.  I stumble over an old list from a new kindred friend and whisper my own praise. 

But only strain against the familiar will break stubborn habits.  Old grooves must be sanded smooth and new lines etched in their place.  And so I purpose in my heart to look for His gifts.  Not to let them roll as rain off my back, but to soak them in-- drink of their goodness...and remember. 

And so I embark on a journey to notice each drop of his goodness and mercy.  As I have a particular fondness and sentimentality for pen and paper, my daily journalings will be recorded there, though I may quietly share a page on occasion.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

At the dawning of this new year, won't you consider joining me?

holy experience

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wishing you a joyous Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009


As we have a high old time this Christmas, may we who know Christ hear the cry of the damned as they hurtle headlong into the Christless night without ever a chance.  May we be moved into compassion as our Lord was.  May we shed tears of repentance for those whom we have failed to bring out of darkness.  Beyond the smiling scences of Bethlehem, may we see the crushing agony of Golgotha.

Nate Saint, martyred missionary pilot

Thursday, December 17, 2009

visions of baking day... in our heads.

For all the buttery details, visit my sister, Kati. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Simple Gifts

A blue Tootsie Roll bank adorns the top of Gavin’s dresser and a yellow one decorates Maddie’s. Sharing space with a jewelry box and ceramic rabbits, photo frames and a mini chalk board, these banks, nonetheless, hold a place of honor. Coins are added clink by determined clink. Eagle eyes spot a stray penny in the grocery store parking lot. Clink. Mama awards an unexpected dime for a job well done. Clink. A tooth wiggles loose and loose change is found under a pillow. Clink. Papa digs in his pocket to retrieve cents and smiles. Clink. And the “picture sales” set up on the kitchen table, opportunities for Daddy to admire crayon masterpieces? Clink. Each coin is treasured.

Last winter both children saved their coins until banks were brimming, until nickels stuffed through the slot could not utter an echo. Then, oh happy day, it was time to dump the banks out onto the floor, sort the coins into piles and begin the chants of, “One, two, three…” and “Five, ten, fifteen…” Their grins lit the room and instead of money, we then counted days until the day of the special shopping trip to spend their savings.

Then the coin clinking and accumulating began again—more searching and saving, planning and grinning. But this time, the banks still rattled with space when my two spilled their change and began to count. Fists full, they approached my husband and me. Gavin was appointed spokesman. “Here,” he said. “We want to give this to a child who doesn’t have anything to eat.” I started to question, ask if they were sure, but my husband stopped me with a single head shake.

Fighting tears, I gathered four months worth of coins and dropped them into an envelope. Deed done, Maddie lifted the now-empty banks back into their places and within minutes, the notes of “pretend” sang out. Not realizing the impact of their simple act of generosity, two children had returned to the land of make-believe.

But I am ever changed.

As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins."I tell you the truth," he said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."   Luke 21: 1-4 NIV

live the gospel

Friday, December 11, 2009

Here We Come A-Caroling

It all began with a little girl, her aunt-friend and their conspiring whispers behind the recliner one Sunday afternoon.  Or was it a little girl and the movie she watched about colonial Felicity?  Maybe it was both, but somehow the little girl determined that this was the year to go Christmas caroling.  Her idea began brewing in October so many weeks passed, weeks of planning and hoping and more secret whispers with her 8-year-old aunt.  Weeks of excitement when she pleaded, "Can't we carol in the fall?"   Weeks of paging through her Christmas carol book and learning lyrics and asking Mama to sing along. 

And suddenly there was only one week to go.  The days seemed to move slower than the weeks had as excitement mounted.  The little girl and her young aunt planned coordinating outfits.  Outfits that were to be worn in the dark night under coats. Outfits that did not take into account the frigid temperatures and blustery wind.  Outfits that had to be tweaked by more-practical mamas. 

But tonight was the night.  We ate an early hearty dinner, hoping to store warmth in our bellies.  Then we all bustled up the stairs where Mama had clothes and more clothes and socks and hats and mittens laid out for each little person.  Then the little girl put on her boots and hopped on one foot by the door, waiting to venture out.  Baby was the last to get ready.  Alas the little girl's magic had not rubbed off on him for he screamed as his hands were encased in mittens and his snowsuit made it too difficult to toddle without falling over.  Daddy pulled the wagon out of winter hibernation and nestled our boy onto the seat.

We moved out into one of the chilliest nights so far this season.  But caroling just wouldn't seem right if  cheeks and tips of noses didn't tingle, you know?  And so the six of us filed out and joined the rest of our group on the sidewalk and began our neighborhood trek.  We sang songs of praise and songs for fun, but each came bubbling out of joyful  (and did I mention cold?) lips.  We sang "Jingle Bells" one too many times as the children marched out in front of our procession.  We sang "Joy to the World" as families gathered around their steamed-up doors to listen.  We sang "O Come All Ye Faithful" as an older lady stepped out on her stoop to smile at the children.  We sang "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" as a little boy opened his upstairs window and peered down on us with a grin and called his grandfather to watch, too. 

Later as the little girl sat at the kitchen table sipping hot chocolate, her pink  flannel nightgown wrapped around still-cool legs, I asked her, "Was it what you hoped it would be?" 

And she replied, "Can we go again next year?"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

We Wish You A Merry Christmas




Oh!... the flurry of the Christmas season, this blessed time of joy!  I am pausing amidst the preparations to link to ideas of yesteryear, in hopes they may inspire you!   (Is it cheating to re-post my old material?)

Names of Jesus garland
Christmas book selection
clove oranges
etched Christmas candles
simple (and delicious) Christmas treats

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Much of our family chatter, of late, has swirled around gifts.

Gift choosing.  Gift making.  Gift wrapping.  Gift wishing. 

Needles fly through fabric and crayons glide across paper as each of us hand-crafts for another.

Secrets are held close as Mama wraps a gift for Daddy.  Owen, my helper (and firm secret-holder!) carefully places the tape between my two pointer fingers and whispers, "I hope he'll like it." 

And little ones long for special somethings. 

Seven years ago, this very day, I received a gift.  It was small but etched out a large place in my growing heart.  It was wrapped in love and patience and joy and hope.  In return, I am learning (continually learning...) to give wholly of myself for another. 

It was the gift of sleepless nights and drooly grins and noise and grass stains and tire swings and Lego scenes. 

It was the gift of motherhood.

It was the gift of Gavin

And as fiercely as I want to relish each moment, time is flowing through my fingers. 

I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord.  For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.  1 Samuel 1: 27, 28

Happy Birthday, Gavin!


Friday, December 4, 2009

Do you see what I see? (sights of the season)

a contemplative boy...

...a twirling angel with pink wings...

...another boy in footies...

...and a baby swathed in Christmas lights...but you'll have to go here to see that one!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

More tea, less me.

I always have an excuse. 

"It's almost dinnertime." 

"I am in the middle of something. Maybe in a bit." 

"Not now.  I just sat down!" 

But this time I pushed aside all the reasons against and decided to go for it.  So after pulling the bathtub drain and sending little ones off to choose pajamas, I hurried downstairs to set up a surprise tea party.  And when they came down, freshly bathed and brushed and pajamed, it was waiting. 

Maddie's blue eyes sparkled and the boys gladly played along.  We sat around the table, nibbling chocolate chip cookies and sipping pretend tea out of tin cups.  We spoke in soft voices and held up dignified pinky fingers.  We said delicate pleases and thank-yous as we passed around the teapot.  When we were full, we turned cups over onto saucers to decline more.  And every moment that I could have been sweeping crumbs or tidying the living room or throwing towels in the wash was worth it.

How many other moments have I disregared because I'm too busy?  How many joy-bringing opportunities do I turn down in exchange for lesser things?  And how long really does it take to stop and shower love?  It takes only a moment to read to the new walker who toddles over, turns backward, and plops down on my lap with his book.  It takes only a moment to swaddle a doll in a flowered blanket and hand her back to her "mama."  And it takes no time at all to sing along to "Jingle Bells" for the seventh time while standing at the sink washing dishes or to listen to a stream of Lego facts while I eat my lunch.

These moments make life full.  Moment by moment by moment, sloughing off  the sin of self and giving more of myself to others-- to them.

Every moment offers a choice.  I intend to make the right one.  Won't you, too?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Children's Book Monday

Join Elise at A Path Made Straight as she pulls from her shelf each Children's Book Monday!
Throughout the year when browsing the library shelves, my fingers would often catch a Christmas book.  I thumbed through pages as they beckoned me to join their tale.  But I resisted check-out.  Instead, I scribbled down titles and saved my list, planning and waiting for December.  In mid-November, I retrieved the list and began tucking books into my bag and squirreling them away at home.  And like the gunshot at the beginning of a race, the day after Thanksgiving was the signal to commence our season's reading.

The Christmas Tree Ship
written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter

We snuggle by our own tree, the scent of fir in our nostrils as we prepare to immerse in this simple story.  We begin...  "Each year on the last day of November, Captain Herman and his crew cut trees to bring to the city in time for Christmas." 

We follow the story of the real-life boat captain who annualy traveled from his Michigan home across the lake to Chicago, delivering Christmas trees.  We read of his interactions in the city.  We read of the year (1912) when his fishing boat is caught in a blizzard.  And though the words of the story are captivating alone, the vividly-colored illustrations fuel our imaginations.  From the glow of fire in the street lamps to the purple and blue haze of freezing snow flakes and pink shading of the sun, we can feel the setting through the visuals. 

So next summer...and every I begin walking the library rows and yearning for Christmas, this book is sure to again find its way to my list. 

Monday, November 23, 2009

With You Always

We awoke to another day of rain. I heard the pattering on the window in my subconscious as I slept and it was comforting. Cold rain in November means my man in the grass-cutting business can turn off his alarm. It means my pace slows and my heart calms, as two calloused hands work beside mine, easing my load. Rain means our scheduled outing to the library would include an extra member, one who never balks at carrying our stash!

But, alas, as breakfast was served and school begun, the howling wind seemed to forecast the day. Water in the street resembled rushing river more than static puddles. Oh, disappointment! Mama and children in need of fresh air and fresh surrounding grew listless at thoughts of being house-bound another day.

A ringing phone brought us out of ourselves as Gavin rushed to answer the call. “Hello, Gran!” he said into the receiver. The front door rattled with a gust of wind. Though I couldn't hear her end of the conversation, I deduced she was inquiring about the storm. “Oh, I love it,” I heard him say, “because Daddy is here.”

Daddy is here.

Disappointments eased…because Daddy is here.

As the time of giving thanks approaches, my thoughts grow pensive. What do I have to be thankful for? Oh, much! Healthy children, food on the table, job stability, always enough of what we need…

…and knowing my Heavenly Father is here. Even—especially—in the midst of  harder times. Here through the death of our first baby, here when Brian’s father died after a battle with cancer, here through trials and worries and disappointments and pain.

Here. Not erasing the sorrow, but reassuring me with His presence.

I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.


Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding, no one can fathom.

And I am so thankful.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Steady

It is nine years today.  Nine years since we inhaled salty wind, peering over boardwalk rails to glimpse the icy crest of waves.  Nine years since a 21-year-old boy asked a 20-year-old girl to be his wife.  Nine years since he took my hand, trembling from cold and excitement and nerves, holding it steady as he slipped a ring on my finger, anticipating our forever promise.  Nine years since I whispered yes through giddy lips...

Still feeling much like a girl, navigating life and marriage and motherhood, I differ not from the winter waves, rising high and falling hard.  But even  now he clasps my hand and remains My Steady.  "Many waters cannot quench beloved is mine and I am his." 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Night of Grace

I sat up late last night, perched on the edge of the bed of a boy with a toothache.  Pain, most severe when lying down, has nagged him awake far too many nights of late.  Even after his sobs had calmed and the hot compress tucked securely around his jaw, I lingered.  I tugged my fingers through his thick blonde hair and whispered words of comfort over his sleepy form. 

Eyes grew heavy, both his and mine, and I returned to my bed, one ear open for his cries, imploring me to return.  But they didn't come.  Not then or an hour or three hours.  A blessed night of peace and comfort was given. 

For he grants sleep to those he loves.  Psalm 127:2

And I'm so thankful.

Friday, November 13, 2009

In light of eternity...

Much has been written about the so-called Mommy Wars-- the fierce battle of words between mothers of differing parenting styles.  Part of being a mama is being passionate about the choices I make for my family, but before entangling myself in pettiness, I would do well to consider 1 Corinthians 13:1:

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.

And in the inner struggle to determine cloth or disposable, homeschool or public, organic or not, my bed or his own, have I put too much merit in trivialities?  In deciding whether to expose my little ones to vaccines or food dyes or television, have I remembered the crux of the matter?  Does Gavin know Jesus?  Is Maddie living for Him?  Will Owen and Benjamin spend eternity in Heaven? 

In a forever-scope, that's all that matters.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Children's Book Monday

The book stack under our coffee table wobbles precariously in these cool months of autumn.  These months where there is nothing better to do (or nothing we want better to do) than curl on the couch or sprawl on the floor with wordy treasures.  I get inspiration from Elise at A Path Made Straight  as she shares her book delights each Children's Book Monday.  (And I gladly walk a path with her on Tuesday or Wednesday and other days, too, as she herself is a delight-- a reflection of His light!)

"We aren't looking for books today, " I warn while riding the elevator to the library...for the second time in a week.  "We need to pick up our holds, and head straight home. "  But somehow one book slips into my bag and another and another until it bulges.  I cannot say no,  for how they love books.

I am partially to blame for the girth.  My head tilts sideways as I scan the spines. I have a weakness for good titles, good artistry, good quality. I am not afraid to say no to twaddle, but alas, my shoulder aches as I stumble to the check-out desk...for the second time in a week. 

Ahhh...but so thankful this book was gifted a place in our hearts...

written and illustrated by Claire A. Nivola

It begins, "A long time ago, when I was a little girl in Germany, I had a doll named Elisabeth."  Surely this was a book for my Maddie and me to enjoy together, the two of us.  And we did.  But the two of us were joined by brothers who also could not resist this story.  Just as  a good story is not bound by age restaints, it is neither bound by gender differences.  So with a lap full of baby and a doll-lover on one side, one boy squished in on my other side and the last boy perched on the arm of the couch. 

Gentle paintings and gentle words accompany this story of a time not-so-gentle.  A time when Jews were forced to flee their homes and leave all possession behind...including dolls, of course.  But I must be careful not to give away too much as this story is best unfolded page by page as you read.  (And I must warn you not to read online synopses as they often reveal too many details of this tale.)

This true story has captured the hearts one mama and four children, and it is sure to capture yours.

Joyful reading!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Day Turns to Night

There is a day in the spring when we set our clocks forward an hour.  The sun shines into the evening and after dinner, enough light remains to shine on us for a stroll around the neighborhood.  The children's ears strain to be the first to detect the tinny notes of the ice cream truck's song.  Bathtime comes just before bedtime as we make sticky bodies ready for smooth sheets.

But there is also a day in autumn when clocks are wound back...and I can't help but embrace sentiments of this day, this season...

In late afternoon, the older children pull on socks and sweatshirts and leggings and run outside to soak up the what little warmth the sun still holds.  Sprawled on the sidewalk, Owen and Gavin create chalk designs while, through the clouds, the sun makes its own pink and orange pictures as it sink into the horizon.  Maddie weaves around them on her bicycle, her cheeks matching the colors of the sunset hour. 

Inside, I resist clicking on the lamp, instead boiling dinner potatoes by light of a candle flickering on top of the bookshelf.  In a moment between stirs, I tiptoe to the door to watch the children, breathing in the mingling aromas of roasting chicken and chill air and cider candle. 

And when Brian arrives home at day's end, bodies file inside, lights switch on, and volume swells, as mouths brim with hot food and tales of the day's exploits.  Curtains pulled shut against a now-gray sky, it feels cozy here.  A bit too noisy as Benjamin yells, "Neigh, neigh, neigh,"  in response to his sister's giggling inquiry as to what a horse says. And a bit too chaotic as everyone asks to have their bread buttered at once.  But it is cozy here, and I wouldn't trade this time, this season, for a million sunny evenings! 

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Day of Grace

Sickness simmered at our house last week. The kind of sickness that lingers and drags on, fevers heating and breaking on their own. The kind where Big Boys and Daddy rise early, but crash early, too. The kind where Little Girl nibbles crackers at noon, still in her nightgown. The kind where Nursing Baby is kept safe from sniffles by drinking tired Mama’s milk, day and night.

Grace. I needed His grace. When my eyes felt too heavy and the stack of storybooks felt too weighty to balance on my lap, I needed His grace. When Venturesome Baby attempted yet another sneaky trek up the un-gated stairs and my will screamed, “When do I get to sit down?” I needed His grace.

Aches strained my body as I stirred noodles into the chicken soup boiling on the burner. Coughs sounded from the living room as Rich Mullins played softly from the CD player.

Let mercy lead,
Let love be the strength in your legs.

Love. Yes, only love was keeping me on my weary feet. Love for my family and for my Lord just barely kept my self-love from bubbling over with the soup. I needed His grace.

After dinner, I tucked blankets up to runny noses, my own shoulders shivering with a chill. Plans for an evening on the couch looked iffy as a sharp tooth threatened to break through Cranky Baby’s gums. Lord, why now? I can’t handle anymore today. I need to rest!

But “the wisdom of the world is foolishness in God’s sight.” Perhaps instead of a pity party into my pillow, I needed another dose of His marvelous grace. No, I couldn’t handle more, but He could. “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.” So kneeling on a floor littered with evidence of our sick day— books and hankies and discarded stuffed animals—I asked for His strength.

Grace. He offers it not once but again and again and again. He holds out His hand, reaching for my trembling weak one. Brushing the dust from my knees, He guides me back to His path.

And in every footprint that you leave,
There’ll be a drop of grace.

That’s the beauty of grace.

Monday, November 2, 2009

My Sister, My Friend

Some months have passed since I introduced my friends.  Amidst the passing days, another of my dear ones joined the blogging world—  my sister, Kati.

I was thirteen when Kati was born.  I remember the day she joined our lives, this delicate little brown-eyed darling.  I remember her learning to crawl to me while our mom was in the next room taking an important phone call!  I remember her humming "Mary Had a Little Lamb" from her crib before she could talk.  I remember being woken many early morning as  she left her own bed and snuggled into mine.  I remember her asking to come along every time I went out with Brian and her wanting to marry him in my place.  I remember her walking before me down the aisle as my flower girl and the look of delight in her eyes as she caught the bouquet hours later.  Oh, life is but a vapor...

Now Kati is on the brink of adulthood and chronicling her favorite things through her own blog. 
Today is her birthday...her sweet 16... so stop by Kati's Little Corner of the World and and wish her a happy day!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hebrews 13:1

"Let brotherly love continue" ...that is my prayer!  As I witness my children eagerly give of themselves for one another,  I whisper a prayer of thanks to the Giver of all good things!  For this is another marking of His hand in our lives. 

Ode to Benjamin
by Gavin
sung to the tune of "Three Blind Mice"

Benjamin, Benjamin. 
I love him.  I love him.
I love him when he laughs and cries.
I think he is a sweetie pie.
I love him all day and night.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Read yourself...

Jungle Pilot by Russell Hitt

...and read aloud.

Nate Saint, Heavenbound by Renee Meloche

For other Duet suggestions, click here!
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