Tuesday, December 31, 2013

We meet as often as we can. It is rare. We have been separated by many miles for many years. We squeeze every minute of joy that we can out of shared moments. It is truly a "quality not quantity" type of relationship, this daughter of mine and I have. 

We met a few years ago in Pennsylvania. A member of the family was going to wed. Ashli arrived for the wedding by train. Anticipation welled up as I saw her walk through the depot. Her daddy took her luggage from her and placed it in our rental car. She hopped in and our very special weekend got a million times better. 

She and I stayed up until the wee hours that night. This is what we do. At some point there was a bit of a lull in conversation. We were resting and enjoying just being in the presence of one another. It was then that she reached in her bag and said, "I made something for you."

She drew out a sketchbook. Neither one of us really has the gift of sketching. Even our stick people drawings look rough and tumbly at best.

It was a large, spiral sketchbook, with only about 20 pages with her fingerprints on them. The rest were pristine, white pages still waiting for script or scrawl.

She had filled the first 20 pages with beautiful, precious thoughts. Thoughts about us. Thoughts about life. She had cut out pictures, glued them in . . . illustrating story and thought. It was so special and beautiful. My heart swelled to overflowing. 

She gave the book to me with instruction. "Now you fill 20 pages, Mom, and give it to me next time we meet."

And so I did.

I found the most special, beautiful, wonderful things I could find and placed them on those twenty pages that were assigned to me. Our little book that had been about an inch and a half thick  grew thicker. Poetry, photography, fashion, food, fun, family, faith . . . so much to share about.
We did this many times. She created 20 pages, then she would give the book to me. I would create 20 more pages and give it back to her. When our book was full it was nearly 18 inches thick, and weighed about twenty-five pounds.

It is a treasure.  An amazing and incredible treasure.

It was a span of time before our book was finished. Our hearts were knit at a new level by the time we reached the final pages.

She and I had lunch a few days ago. "We need to start a new book," she says. 

Our new book will be smaller this time. We will not be able to meet very often, so it will have to be. We will have to illustrate with words only. She gave me a little book filled with blank pages for Christmas this year. "We can use this, momma," she says.

And so, I will begin our journal this time, then send it by post when a few pages are complete. Excuse me, I have to go for now. There are some pristine white pages calling my name.

Happy New Year to all! May it be a favorite. I pray that, if you keep a journal, you will have many happy and wonderful things to write about. God's best blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

What picture comes to mind when you think of that day?

Mother with newborn . . . always a mystery, no? Always miraculous. Life gives birth to life. Proof that there is a God in heaven. How else could life be formed in womb?

When Jesus was born,that miraculous, wondrous night, it was the wonder of wonders.

Imagine holding majesty in your arms.

Swaddling him, then drawing him near your heart. Heartbeat to heartbeat, heaven's breath on your face. 

 The adored, the sent one, Messiah, humble king, savior.

Sweet baby Jesus, in your arms.

Silent awe.

He was born on earth, the joy of heaven, the Father's love revealed.

The hope of nations tucked in the arms of a handmaiden.

 Sent to redeem lost souls.

God's perfect grace personified.

Redemption is such a beautiful story, my friend. 

 I wish you many joys this Christmas. I pray happiness fills your home to the brim and spills over into your neighborhood.

My biggest hope is that you will enjoy the one who came that night. That you will seek Him face to face, love Him with all of your heart, and celebrate life with Him.

Many blessings from our home to yours.

We wish you every merriness! 

"Joy to the world! The Lord has come! Let earth receive her king! Let every heart, prepare Him room! And heaven and nature sing. And heaven and nature sing! And heaven and heaven and nature sing!"

Saturday, December 21, 2013

 "Butter-fly"  our two-year-old Ace calls the celestial what is familiar to him. 

Imagine shepherds quieting the sheep, preparing to rest while all is calm. Suddenly the skies are brilliant and the night sky, which only speaks during thunder storms, is filled with vibrato of the celestial.

Can  you imagine?

Is there anything you have experienced that can compare?

Heaven speaking in song.

Lyrics of promise and hope poured upon their heads.

Angels rejoicing, dancing in midair.

Shepherds were considered lowly, insignificant, paupers.

But they got to see!

Heaven was happy! It had to tell somebody! Heaven did not consider them lowly. Heaven was reaching to save.

"The King of heaven is born on earth. Born to save man. Born to give what every man fights to keep. Life. Hope is born. Hope of man having the ability to have the kind of peace that passes all understanding. Man does not yet understand how wonderful their future can now be. We see and we understand! We cannot keep our song to ourselves."

I have often wondered what the shepherds told their families. What kind of stories did their grandchildren get to hear?

"I was guarding sheep one evening when out of nowhere silence was broken by the happiest of sounds. Angels rejoicing, a trumpet sounding. I cannot describe it in earth tones. And then we saw Him, a babe. A babe who was called King by those who knew Him before."

We often imagine a silent night, we sing the song we know. The shepherds might offer another perspective, "Heaven burst upon us with the songs that angels sing . . . celebration! And they told us where we could find Him, the reason for their song! And now we have a new song to sing! Rejoice! Rejoice!"

This is the reason of Christmas. Ace called the angel a butterfly. It is what he knows. Have you heard the angel's song? If you listen very, very close, you might hear it. Shhhh . . . listen . . . they're still singing. The song delivered that night will never be silenced. Praise Him! Praise Him! 

Praying that you hear it, too! 

"It is not a butterfly, Lovey. It is an angel!" I tell him.

"Aaan-Gel?" he reaches for understanding.

I am reaching, too. How about you?

Praying you hear the beautiful sound, my friend. The sound of redemption is the most glorious sound of all. Heaven sings! Yes, heaven sings! 

"Hark the herald, angels sing, Glory to the newborn King. Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled . . . " and so the song goes.

Merry Christmas! 

Friday, December 20, 2013

When it catches their eye, they giggle. 

"Poopoopaper!!!" they say, "Wouldn't ___________ love this!"

I always have to smile. It is one of the most popular items in our store. One day I believe that I sold more poopoopaper than anything else! 

I was on a mission trip in Sri Lanka the first time I came across such a thing. The missionary family that we were staying with took us to an elephant orphanage. It was an amazing place where they saved elephants who lived in dangerous areas where landmines had been planted. One dear old elephant that we met had lost part of his leg because of a landmine that he happened onto. 

In Sri Lanka they had a whole gift store of items that had been made out of elephant poo. Eewwww! I was amazed, but could not touch the items in that store. It was convincing. Frugality, ingenuity and creativity knows no bounds!

Kentuckians love their horses! There is a lot of horse poo around here. Why not make it useful?

I think I just read your mind. 

"How can I get some of that?" you ask.

Just give me a call and we will see what we can do. Just remember there are only 5 days until Christmas. You might want to add it to next years shopping list. I think it is going to be around for a very long time.
Hope you are finding the perfect gift for everyone!
Merry, merry!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

It happened a long time ago, over a quarter of a century now. Luke was newborn babe. His tiny hand was too small to make an impression in wet cement, so Scotty took a stick and drew a tiny hand in the grey matter and wrote Luke's name with date beside it. 

Luke's pseudo impression remained for a very long time. 

Sometimes that is what life is like, no? 

 We say or do something and an impression is made, but that is not really who we are. But for some reason, the impression forms up, congeals, hardens, and remains forever.  We are held captive, judged by an imprint we have left behind.

There are things I have said in the past. Silly things that I have done. A lot of them are long forgotten in my mind, but in the mind of someone else it is as if I said, or did it yesterday. It wearies me to be held in the memory of some timeless warp in the mind of someone else. 

Before we left our homestead of twenty plus years, Scotty crushed the cement with Luke's tiny hand-print formed in it. It was a sad moment for us. We hated to get rid of something so precious. Though his hand-print was not genuine,his sweet name was there. But we couldn't bring it with us. The cement needed to go, so did the hand-print.

Sometimes we need to let go of things of the past. We need to crush the memory of it forever. Words others have spoken, things they have done. If they had it to do over, (which who can do that?) they most likely would not. 

Grace is a gift we can give one another. A beautiful, godly, unselfish gift. I am praying for grace to give those who have wounded me in the past.We are promised that we will reap what we sow. 

Oh, Lord, Your grace is the greatest gift. Please help me to sow grace. I trust you for the harvest. Amen, let it be so.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I was thinking about quitting my job. I came very close. Tensions are extreme. Co-workers are tired. Patrons, though kind are weary. Last minute shopping is taxing. I understand, you finally have the means to buy treasure for your loved ones, only to realize the treasure you sought to give is no longer available. 

I'm trying to be patient, trying to be joyful.

I pray that I will be light to all. 

I have told this little parable before, but this is a perfect time to repeat and remind myself of its wisdom. 

There once was a great city that was divided by a wall. The  people who lived on one side of the wall hated the people who lived on the other side. One night they banned together and decided that they would throw all of their garbage and every ugly thing they could find over the wall. 

The next morning the recipients of the garbage banned together and formed a plan. That night they threw flowers and many beautiful things over the wall. Above the mound of beauty they posted a sign, "Each man gives what he has."

There will be a lot of unwrapping, and many trinkets and treasures will be given this Christmas. Oh, but the best gifts, my friend, cannot be purchased at the little gift store where I am working, nor at any other store in town. They are gifts of the heart. Gentle responses when we feel like anything but. Tender words, hugs, love. 

Praying that you will find a heap of blessings on your side of the wall. 

Merry Christmas! 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Scotty answered the knock at the door. The postman handed him a package. "Amazon" is written across it in bold black letters. 

He gives me a look that asks, "Have you weakened?" 

I return the most puzzled face I can muster.

I open the box and there inside is a gift from our youngest. He is thinking about us from wherever he is at sea. 

Days pass. We receive another knock on our door. The postman has returned with another package from our boy at sea. It is for me this time. Tears well up as I open the sterling silver necklace, a cross with an anchor. Beautiful! 

From Josiah, the card says. 

He has been at sea since September. Underway is what they call it when you are in a submarine. He was in port  somewhere in the world on Thanksgiving Day so we got to chat with him for a good long time. I love Skype, Facetime, Facebook, E-mail. It is what we have. I could see him and it was like he was right here with us. 

I would love for that to happen at Christmas time. I would love to be able to see the boy/man! In person would be the best, but I will settle for a technological visit.

Dear Santa,
Please send us a Josiah for Christmas. We would love to receive another knock on our door. We have loved greeting the postman, but we would be even more delighted to open to a knock on the door and see our dear Josiah and his lovely bride, Bonnie standing there. Please, Santa! I have been a very good girl this year.
Your best girl!
ps. I have a new address this year! Will you be able to find me?

Merry Christmas blessings to all who serve in the military! You are a blessing to our country and our gratitude is immense! 

Friday, December 13, 2013

He met me for lunch  a few weeks ago at one of our favorite Mexican buffets. 

"I've never seen your hair fixed quite like that," he says.

This is the man who, when he came to pick me up for a date one time, asked me if I had been eating fried chicken. 

"Chicken?" I asked.

"Your lips, they are kind of greasy." 

A sister might have been a good thing for his family. He had no idea that it was lip gloss giving my lips an imperial glow. 

I told my hairdresser that my husband loved my hair last time she fixed it. He thought those little flippies that she managed to wisp out of my limp locks made me look like I had a "twenties something's do". 

She tried to repeat. 

She sprayed, she teased, she ironed, and she glued my hair with thick goo so that it would hold it's flippy position. 

Result, I looked like the flying nun dressed in habit. Actually, I looked more like a weather vane. Point me in any direction, north, south, east, or west and I would have directed spot on.

When we met for lunch he didn't tease. He didn't despise. He only wondered out loud.

That is his way. Gentle. 

We have come a long way from, "You been eating fried chicken?"

I went to see my hairdresser yesterday. "Just curl it under this  time," I say.

She says, "I really like it flipped out, but we will do what you like."
I picture it. Flying Nun. Weather vane.

"It's okay. Under will be great!" I smile.

"I love your hair!" he says when he sees me. I run by the apartment to give him a hug before I head to work. "You look great!" he smiles. Then he begins to sing to me "Born to be wild . . . do, do, dooooo!" He wiggles a little as he sings.

Our now and our past, they dance with grace. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

My dad could always spot a good man in a crowd. He was drawn to the tender, the loyal, the work your fingers to the bone kind of guy. He respected the ones who would do anything for anyone, "give the shirt off their back" for someone else. 

When he spotted Scotty, he decided that I should marry him. They worked together one summer and it was over. The decision was made.

"Make sure she ends up with that guy," he told my mother.

Mom remembers shrugging her shoulders at the thought. 
"How do you make love and life happen for someone else?" 

Scotty and I fell in love at first sight . . . well, sort of. We walked to school together when we were children. I didn't like him then. Time passed, we grew up. I saw him on a summer's eve when I was fourteen and my heart danced to a new tune. It is a night etched in our memory files, stored under label, "best night ever!" 

It was magic, impossible to describe with words. He grinned and a web was spun around my heart, I was captured forever.

We fell in love instantly, we fell in like over time. 

I would see him turn the corner in the hall at school and my heart would literally take a nose dive to my knees. I was helpless to run. I tried a few times, when I realized how very different we were. He the practical, I the dreamer. He the wise, I the simple one. Magnetic forces drew us, our love would not endure long separations. We had to be together.

My dad knew what a catch my man was. He spotted him right off. He never said, "marry that one!" He never even nodded Scotty's way. He must have prayed. He wanted our togetherness terribly bad.

Dad did not pray out loud very often . . . I heard him talk to God only a  few times in my whole life, but I'm pretty sure that he prayed about us, my man and I. Thank you, Dad! I wouldn't have wanted it any other way! I'm very thankful for my guy! He is the love of my life!

Bless you for believing in us. How different it all would have been if not for your faith in our relationship. Your love and support was like an anchor that carried us through many a difficult season. We love you and we miss you so much!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"Christ-Mas-Time!" he points to the red and green decor that laces our tiny abode. He accents every syllable. 

Last night he saw our sparkling tiny tree for the first time. Oh, to capture the awe of that moment. 

Eyes of wonder!


"Snow-Man," says he showing me the round whitened man hanging on our tree.

"An-Gel,"  he smiles.

I recently told him that GG was going to give him presents for Christmas. 

"Ap-ple Sauce,"   he replies, the greatest gift he can imagine.

We opened gifts last evening. I served him applesauce after he finished his dinner, just like always.

Petra wore her Santa hat. Ace did, too, for about two seconds.

Having these babies in my world has really stirred my thinking again about Jesus saying that we need to be childlike.

Not childish, childlike.

Full of awe, wonder, delight! 

With full understanding that applesauce is a gift.

A little child will lead them.

I'm learning daily with two little ones on my knee. 

Merry Christmas Blessings to all!