Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thanksgiving, Day 23 - Happy Birthday to The Mister

He's not one for lots of attention and fussing. 

He celebrates quietly. I, with a clang. But this is his day, so we'll do what he likes. 

He'll read in the morning, and work on his truck all afternoon. He'll cook meat over a fire with a pint in his hand. He'll settle in for a movie with his people, content with our quiet party of four. He's won't ask for it, but I'll make him his favorite chocolate cake, with a scoop of plain vanilla, to celebrate another given year. 

Half-way through forty, and as handsome as ever. 

Loving and strong. Faithful and true. Easy to please and growing in grace.. I am thankful for The Mister.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thanksgiving, Days 16-19,

...for sleepy, smiling, bovine on a fall afternoon.

... for little fish, that still swim.

... for a disobedient a dog who like to push the limits (she knows she isn't allowed to be in my office, so she purposefully sits with her paws in the door.

... for teenagers that makes me laugh.

... for watercoloring with young friends.

...for the little red tree that grows as we do.

... for the last colorful leaves holding out 'til its time for winter's sleep.

...for those delicate hands that paint and play. I love hearing her play Christmas songs while I cook in the evening.

...for Psalm 34 on a hard day.

...for limitless cups of warm beverage.

For all these I give thanks.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Thankgiving, Days 8-15: Grace in the Ordinary Day

How to See Grace in the Ordinary Day: 
-a note to myself

1. Wake up before the sun in gratitude to breathe another day. Ask for eyes that see.

2. Rouse the teenagers and get them started about their day. Accept your daughter's winsome fashion advice. Kiss your son's scratchy unshaved cheek. As you instruct them in the business of the day ahead, remind yourself: a gentle word turns away wrath. Tell them you love them. Tell them again.

3. Meet a girlfriend for coffee and cinnamon rolls before the frost outside has time to thaw. Sit in the restaurant, huddled over a small round table for hours. Talk until you realize the lively lunch crowd has pushed the quiet breakfasters from their computers and corner tables. Admit, with hesitation, it's probably time to go. Promise to do it again soon. Walk to your car, in your smart shiny shoes, parting ways with mirthful contentment. 

4. Drive directly to the home of another dear friend, for an impromptu meeting of the Ladies Who Lunch. Upon arrival to this homestead of open doors, warm hugs and British blue eyes, the smell will instantly make this good day better -- she's been baking. Sit down to a delicious bowl of hot soup. On the wings of a prayer, break fresh bread, the warmth and fragrance calling you to repose. Encourage one another in the Lord, eyes filled with mist, and joy. Laugh a lot, sip tea, chat some more, hug necks. 

5. Drive home with a full heart, a filled belly. 

6. At home, find the teenagers have cleaned your kitchen, tidied up, and are ready for transport to evening festivities. Shuttle children, kiss faces, thank them for their help. Tell them you love them. Tell them again. Share their excitement for an evening with friends.

7. Drive home, let that feeling of humble gratitude for undeserved grace settle in... remember, there are deep lessons to be learned in gracious receiving. 

8.  Enter house. Make more tea. Experience unexpected GLADNESS! ...  the eaters of the house have left you the last brownie. Eat it. Quickly.

Sit down and allow today's vision to look back on the week. Today's gifts sit on grace upon grace. Yesterday's gifts were equally sweet, though my attitude, perhaps not as sunny. 

Open my eyes that I may see.... not just today, but again tomorrow.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Thanksgiving, Day 7: Rest

My office is currently a menagerie of old furniture and new. There is the recent purchase of a new chair from Ikea, and the old toddler table that never made it to the attic for storage. Soon I'll make my way back to Charlotte and purchase another white chair (there wasn't room in the van on the last trip) and find something to make the table look more middle-age woman than preschool student. But until then, this little perch in my creative space is where I go to rest. And when the sun is shining through the windows, as it was today, I just don't ever want to leave. Today I didn't have to.

Now that my babes are old enough to keep there illnesses to themselves, I haven't had enough exposure to childhood germs. I recently started working in the toddler room on Wednesday nights at church. Those little guys, with their sweet runny noses are becoming my buddies. My heart is having fun, and apparently, my immune system is getting stronger.

Yesterday I felt a little allergy-ish. More than I usually do... but in the middle of the night the sore throat and achiness hit with vengeance. This, the second head cold in as many months.

Early this morning I let my co-op compadres know that I was calling in sick. Then I warmed the kettle, brewed the tea, and set myself down for a day of rest.

I'm thankful that the other ladies at co-op were quick to help me with my classes and responsibilities so I could stay home to get well. I'm thankful that I am generally in great health, and that I could use this day of rest to think and ponder. I do love this busy time of life, with a robust family and a healthy schedule. But its hard to find those big chunks of time to think, and read, and write... and think some more.

Today, a sore throat created margin for a good rest in my sunny, cozy space. I am thankful.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Thanksgiving Day 6: The Gift of Farm Work

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. - James 1:17

I have the privilege to work a couple days a week at a therapeutic riding stable near my home. One day a week I go clean the barn, and the second day I help with lessons. I love lesson day when I get to be in the arena with the directors/coaches, students and horses, but cleaning day is my favorite. 

Occasionally, on cleaning day the directors will come to the barn and chat a little, filling us in on life at the farm. On other mornings, it's just The Girl and I left to enjoy the fellowship of four-legged friends, and the physical work of pitchfork and shovel. We talk. Life with a 13 year old always involves a good chat of one sort or another.

We've learned a lot too, The Girl and me. We've learned how to properly clean up after suicidal squirrels. We've learned how to bathe a 1200 pound animal. 

We've learned that our capacity to face our fears is greater than our will to quit. We've learned that a little hard work brings benefits beyond the scope of our service. Scooping poop sounds like a drag, but believe it or not, it's a gift.

A good  and perfect gift...

Last year I wrote a small post of our time here at the stable. The truth is when I wrote that post I was still on the up swing from my great battle with anxiety. To the outward appearance all was well, but in side I still felt uncertain and fragile. I haven't written much about it here on the blog, it's still too close to go back and revisit. The synopsis is: the Lord new I needed time at the therapeutic stable. 

Today I am well, with only a few moments here and there of manageable anxiety. But it's so strange... when I'm in the barn, I'm not afraid. Even when I get nervous around these animals who are powerful and strong, I'm never panic-stricken.  

I am drawn to this place. Not because its glamorous and showy, but because the beasts of the field remind me of a God who concedes His awesome power and might to the likes of broken and feeble riders. God will carry his children. 

The physical labor reminds me that we are made to work. And even if that work involves getting dirty, it is still a Holy calling. Doing work you've been called to do brings joy that rises up over the messes.

The mornings spent fishing squirrels out of water troughs, or tacking a horse for the rider, reminds me that the best way to heal a troubled heart, or a broken spirit, is to quit looking inward. Instead, look up for God's direction, look out to serve His people. There, in that space between upward and outward, is a place of peace and rest.  

For these good gifts I am humbly grateful.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Thanksgiving Day 3: Laughter

If I look too far into the future, I get a little sad. There are only so many years left with all my chicks in the nest.

Today I am grateful for laughter. I give thanks for the memories we're making in the day to day life... memories nobody else holds, but them and me. They've grown. Those teenage years I worried about when I rocked babes in my arms, have come in a whirlwind. I wasn't prepared for the breakneck speed. People would say 'it goes so fast', I simply did not believe.

But it does go fast. So listen. And watch. And laugh when you can, because laughing, together, is the best part of all.

Today I am thankful for laughter.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Thanksgiving Day 2: Eighteen Autumns

We've shared eighteen autumns, him and I.

I love watching him chop wood under the golden hue of fall foliage. Quiet and strong in his favorite plaid shirt. By the end of this day that shirt will smells of pine and smoke and his cologne... I'll breathe the fragrance in deeply, twice, before throwing it in the washer.

I'm thankful for his faithfulness. His patience. His understanding. I'm thankful for his quiet understanding and steadiness. I'm thankful that he does the hard things without complaint, and empties the dishwasher too.

I'm thankful for eighteen autumns.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Thankful Day 1: Church Family

I hope I never waste a moment of life in wishing for something else. I know I wouldn't be satisfied by what wasn't meant to be. Still, I often yearn for gifts that only time can gather.

For instance, here in this place we've called home for five years, I've longed for deep community.

I have had a real taste of sweet fellowship in the past, and in a handful of dear friendships fostered in surprising places on the road. Moving across the country several times in the last 17 years has allowed a taste of community in bites and chews. Sweet friendships that have held the test of time, and will never be severed despite the gap. But, when the tent is packed up, and caravan gets moving, loving at a distance is not quite the same. I prefer sitting in a kitchen, over cups of tea, sharing the dailies of living life.

What I've longed for is a community that I can grow with; and they can grow with me. Families and friends, who will share their troubles, share their joys. I want to go to the weddings of children I knew when they toddled. I want to pray prayers that cannot be rapidly known, allowing the opportunity to learn faithfulness, to share in the gratitude of a longing fulfilled.  I want to experience life with those who want to be known in the dusty and dirty, the sunny and sweet.

I have longed to be in a community that holds one another up, for the long haul, in laughter and truth. I've ached for, and waited, and (honestly) worried, that it might not happen the way I had hoped.

Yet, all things work together.

That is what I am thankful for today... that God hears our prayers and knows the desires of our hearts. He does not lie in wait to hand out stones when we have asked for bread.

I am thankful for the gift of church family. The one that came by total surprise on a cold rainy day in December.

I asked for a loaf, and He gave me a basket. Lavish, and in His timing. To Him be the Glory.