December 30, 2010

His Flame Still Burns Bright

The Advent altar has been disassembled. Four candles burned to nubs, thrown away. Yet the bright white one still stands tall. I couldn't bear to put it in storage. It deserves new life, as the One it represents has given us.

I pull out a white linen cloth once handed down from my husband's grandmother. I reminisce about the strong foundation she laid for my man, and how she loved the Gospel of Luke. The white cake stand has been turned upside down, and I can't help but think of how His life has turned my own topsy-turvy.  I scrounge to find white candles left over from last year's Advent wreath, placing them in silver candlesticks gifted to us on the day we began our new life together.  I steal the votives from the nativities set up around the house. No one waits in the manger, for the Child has already come.

The tableaux is complete.

In these quiet winter evenings, His light will burn bright as we gather for dinner and feast on the Word. As we read through the Gospels until Easter, we will light the candle representing His life. We will remember how we anticipated His birth as we wonder at His life. Then we will fix our gaze toward Calvary, to be humbled all over again at His death and to marvel anew at His resurrection.

Yes, Christmas Day is done, but the Christmas Child still reigns.

(*Still Unwrapping Jesus @ Faith Barista)

December 29, 2010

2011 - A Year of Giving

It is our shame & disgrace today that so many Christians...go through this world in the spirit of the priest and the Levite in our Lord's parable, seeing human needs all around them, but (after a pious wish, and perhaps a prayer, that God might meet them) averting their eyes, and passing by on the other side. That is not the Christmas spirit. Nor it is the spirit of those Christians - alas, they are many - whose ambition in life seems limited to building a nice middle-class Christian home, and making nice middle-class Christian friends, and bringing up their children in nice middle-class Christian ways, and who leave the sub-middle-class sections of the community, Christian and non-Christian, to get on by themselves.

The words slice my heart deep and I catch my breath. I wriggle in my seat, squirm at the conviction. Seeing yourself in words is uncomfortable sometimes.

The pain of realization is fresh. I know what I must do. No excuses, no rationalizations.

I'm setting aside the theme I had planned for next year.  A new one calls urgently, unrelentingly.

2011 will be A Year of Giving.

Each month, my family will consciously seek to share Jesus in practical, life-changing ways. We will look for opportunities to give of our time, money, and talents.

Even though our income has been drastically reduced.

Even though our spare time is in short supply.

Even though we don't overflow with talent.

The goal is at least one project a month, but I am praying that we will be stretched to give more, to love more. That we can help change lives but, more importantly, that our lives will be changed. That we will be more aware of our blessings. That we will come to this time next year with a deep appreciation for what we have been given, and a burning desire to continue giving to others. That giving will become second nature, a way of living.

This theme is different from the others. It's shifting our perspective from what we can gain to what we can give.

Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
- Luke 12:48 (ESV)

Will you join us in A Year of Giving? Pray that the Lord will open your eyes to new opportunities to give and share the love of Christ with others.  In God's kingdom, the heart of the giver matters more than the size of the gift.

Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, "Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."
- Luke 21:1-4 (ESV)

holy experience


December 28, 2010

When Christmas Isn't a Letdown

Reading the Christmas story.

Unwrapping presents.

Breakfast and laughter with dear friends. Toddler squeals and little boy hugs.

An afternoon cuddled under quilts, the love poured into each hand stitch warming us through.

A quiet, candlelight dinner and the final Advent reading.

Christmas carols played by hesitant fingers reaching for the right keys and stumbling over a few notes. Voices raised in praise anyway. Joy to the World!

Soft white flakes falling to the ground, bringing an answer to the prayer I've whispered every year since childhood. Finally, a white Christmas.

And for the first time in so many years I've lost count, there was no This is it? or I can't believe it's over stirring in my heart. I wasn't tempted to think about the hours I'd spent working, only to see the fruit of my labors consumed within mere minutes.

A short gift list saved me from hours of shopping.

A short grocery list saved me from hours of baking.

A short activity list saved me from hours away from home and family.

Instead of preparing for the holiday, preparing for His coming. Not anticipating a perfect Christmas, but a perfect Christ. Longing more to light that final candle than to unwrap any gift under the tree.

When the expectation of Christmas is Christ Himself, there are no disappointments and no letdowns. 

There is no guilt for not finding the perfect gift, because we know it's already been given and there's no way to top it.

There is no shame in not filling the kitchen with food that spoils, because we know the Bread of Life sustains us.

There is no remorse in skipping parties and productions, because we know a lowly manger hosted the greatest celebration the world has ever known.

There is only joy because even though Christmas Day is done, we know the Christmas Child still reigns.

December 22, 2010

Book Review: The Clouds Roll Away

It's been forever since I've participated in a blog tour or posted a book review.  My reading habits have definitely changed in the past few months, with R in college.  But I couldn't pass up the opportunity to read The Clouds Roll Away by Sibella Giorello. I'm so glad I didn't.

The Clouds Roll Away is the latest installment in the Raleigh Harmon series.  I met Raleigh in The Stones Cry Out, and I just adore the forensic geologist turned FBI agent (is that a cool job or what?).  Raleigh is perfectly imperfect. She's good at her job, even though she bends the rules. Back in Virginia after a disciplinary transfer, Raleigh finds herself trying to solve a series of hate crimes targeting famous rapper RPM. Her investigation takes Raleigh to a crack house, a prison, and the home of a known member of the Klu Klux Klan. As if that weren't enough, Raleigh finds herself dealing with her mother's increasing mental issues, her tenant's increasing distant and strange behavior, and her ex-boyfriend's increasing attentions.

If you enjoy a fast-paced, riveting read, do yourself a favor and check out The Clouds Roll Away.  You'll thank me for it. (You can buy the book here)

To find out more about author Sibella Giorello and the entire series, visit her website.  Check out the blog tour and see what others are saying here.

Sibella’s celebrating the release of The Clouds Roll Away by giving away a KINDLE prize pack worth over $150.00!

One Grand Prize winner will receive:
  • Latest Generation KINDLE with Wi-Fi
  • $25 gift certificate to
To enter simply click on one of the icons below! Then tell your friends! Winner will be announced January 3, 2011 on Sibella's blog:

About The Clouds Roll Away - "Beautifully written with exquisite descriptions, Giorello's mystery also features well-developed characters..."
—Booklist, starred review

December 20, 2010

The Advent Altar - Part IV

(Read why we have an Advent altar here. This is the final post in a series on how we put our altar together. You can also read Part I, Part II, & Part III.)

The Family completes our Advent Altar. Joseph, man of honor and strength, who agreed to raise a child not of his flesh. Mary, girl of faith and deep thoughts, who subjected her reputation and her life to God's plan. And Jesus, the baby who created the couple who would raise him from infancy. God bound by flesh and time. A miracle our human minds will never fully understand.

The other nativities around our home are complete with shepherds and wisemen, stable animals and angels. This one alone is the family of three, sitting quietly on the altar where our family of three gathers each evening to prepare our hearts for the Coming One.

May you be filled with Hope this Christmas, as you prepare for His coming.

Because of Jesus,

December 15, 2010

Eyes Wide Open

Christmas is tougher this year.

Not because there are fewer presents. There are still plenty.

Not because there are fewer decorations. The ones scattered among our home are the most meaningful.

Not because I didn't send Christmas cards. I stopped doing that years ago.

And not because the calendar is too full. Although, honestly, it's more full than I would like and I'm already committing that next year will be different.

Christmas is tougher because I've been reading about Katie's work in Uganda, watching Eric's video about our Depraved Indifference, thumbing through the Samaritan's Purse catalog, and thinking about all the Compassion children who need sponsors.  Feed the World comes on the radio, and I listen intently to the words -think of the children they're about - instead of trying to remember which popular singers took part in the Band Aid project.

I want to reach out to them.  Give until it hurts.  But my little drop in the bucket is just that. The truth is, no matter what I give, someone will still be hungry.  Someone will still be homeless. Someone will die from a curable disease or lack of clean water. Someone will still need Christ.

The need is overwhelming to me.  At times it crushes my chest so that I can barely breathe.  Tears well up and rain down my cheeks.  I don't understand.

Why them?

Why me?

Why do I get to sit on my sofa and look at these images through the veil of a laptop screen? 

Why do I get to put them out of sight and move on to the next thing? 

Why did you open my eyes to this hurt, Lord? 

And then I realize that, painful as it is, I do not want to go back. After the nativities are nestled safely in storage containers and the Christmas tree is boxed up for another year, I do not want to return to the world of comfortable oblivion. I want to keep walking toward my Savior, loving others as He instructs me to love them. To give from the ridiculous abundance I have been given.

The message of Christmas doesn't belong packed away with the decorations.  It must be lived out every day of the year.

I ponder what that means for my family, pray for guidance and wisdom.  Will you join me?

holy experience

December 14, 2010

The Advent Altar - Part III

(Read why we have an Advent altar here. This is the 3rd post in a series on how we put our altar together. You can also read Part I & Part II)

We continue to prepare for His arrival. Each night after we read, we count.  Down, not up. It increases the anticipation.  The numbers wait, nestled alongside tacks that bring to mind the nails used to pierce His skin. The stack gets shorter each night.  We are filled with eagerness to get to the card that proclaims, "He is Born!"

Already I know next year will look different. Behind each number is a picture from Ann's Jesse Tree Devotional.  Next December, we will line all the numbers on the board and turn them over each day as we read the devotions. But this year, as we learn to find Him in our traditions, the numbers are enough.

They point to the promise. Not of the night a man in a red suit comes down the chimney, but of the night God, wrapped in human flesh, came down to earth.

This Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity - hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory - because at the Father's will Jesus Christ became poor and was born in a stable so that thirty years later he might hang on a cross. It is the most wonderful message that the world has ever heard, or will hear.
-J.I. Packer, Knowing God excerpted in

December 10, 2010

Christmas in the Middle

Ann wrote of being pregnant with Christmas, of being stretched to the limit by God.  I nod as I read.  Today, I understand.

Today feels like I am stretched further than I've been since we started on this journey. I imagine Mary great with child and riding on a donkey, its every move jarring her teeth and sending shockwaves of pain up her back. The end is near.  Soon her son will arrive. The pain of being mother to the Savior, unknown to her. She can only think of bringing forth the child, giving her body relief.  Joseph feels it, too. They are weary.

I am weary.

Just a few hours away from the end of my man's first semester back in college. I am so full with the expectation of it that I could burst. We don't know what next semester will bring, but today I am ready to put these hard months behind us.  To take a break.  To be a normal family again, if only for a few weeks.

Sometimes the path God puts us on isn't easy. I've learned that over and over again these past 13 months. Mary and Joseph had a difficult and long journey to Bethlehem. It didn't seem logical. Could Joseph have claimed extenuating circumstances, pleaded to stay at home until the baby was born? Yet they went in obedience, on a journey that took who knows how long. Bethlehem must have been a welcome sight.

I tell myself that we, too, are giving birth. Not to a child, but to a new life. Like Mary, I am eager to leave the road and settle in. This last day, these last exams, will soon be behind us. I look at how far we've come since last Christmas. I dream of next Christmas, when, Lord willing, my man will be graduating. Yet we are here, at this Christmas in the middle. It's not comfortable, but even though I am worn with exhaustion, I wouldn't chose to be anywhere but here.

December 8, 2010

The Advent Altar - Part II

(Read why we have an Advent altar here.  This is the 2nd post in a series on how we put our altar together. Part I can be found here

Before lighting the candle in our wreath each night, we read from the Word and from our Advent resource. This year we're learning to look for Jesus in The Adventure of Christmas: Helping Children Find Jesus in Our Holiday Traditions. We are able to see Him everywhere.

In the Christmas tree, standing tall to point to Heaven, arms outstretched like His were on the day He was crucified.

In the lights that mimic starlight falling on trees.  Heavenly winks from our Creator.

In the ornaments, the fruit of the tree in the garden.  The one that tempted Eve and ushered sin into the world.  The one that represents our need for Christ.

This is why we celebrate Him.

The enemy has tried to capture these holy items, to desecrate them.  He's tried to hide Jesus. We have let him.  When we participate in Christmas traditions without seeking their true meaning, without searching out Christ, we are no different than those who want to keep Him hidden. When we share in the worldly holiday, we miss Christmas. 

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"
- Luke 2:13-14 (ESV)

May we proclaim His glory in each of our traditions this Advent season.

holy experience

December 7, 2010

The Advent Altar - Part I

If you're here from (in)courage, greetings! Welcome to my humble corner of the web. Feel free to pour a cup of coffee, kick off your shoes, and browse around.  If you're a regular visitor, you can also visit me over here today.

How do you build an altar for a set apart season?

First, the wreath itself.

Nothing fancy, just an evergreen wreath with some plastic berries and silver ribbon.  Our candles aren't the traditional Advent colors.  The composition itself isn't what matters.  It's the soothing ritual, the hushed voices as we gather around the light, waiting for the Light.

In a season that the enemy tries to overcome with busyness and chaos, we take time to be intentional. To quiet our souls.  To remind ourselves what we're about to celebrate.

We must both read and meditate upon the nativity.  If the meditation does not reach the heart, we shall sense no sweetness, nor shall we know what solace for humankind lies in this contemplation.  The heart will not laugh nor be merry.  As spray does not touch the deep, so mere meditation will not quiet the heart.  There is such richness and goodness in this nativity that if we should see and deeply understand, we should be dissolved in perpetual joy. - Martin Luther, excerpted from Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas (emphasis mine)

December 2, 2010

Finding What Matters in Christmas

Even with its candle glowing, the Advent altar looked bare. A new Nativity scene, perhaps? After all, what's Christmas without the baby?

I looked in several stores, finding nothing that fit. Then I remembered my girl's childhood set, given by a friend. It would be just right there.

Can we move it to the altar?

But it's mine. I want it in my room.

And how can a mother argue with that?

I remembered a set in the attic, a small one I don't use anymore. I offered that to her. Once again, I was content to offer my leftovers to this sweet child.  She reluctantly agreed.

When I went to find it, I found another I'd forgotten about. It fit perfectly.

I'm ashamed that I had casually tossed the Holy Family in with other Christmas decorations I no longer use...and there are many. I've tried numerous ways to deck our halls over the years, wanting to find the perfect combination befitting a magazine cover. I ran myself ragged, only to find that shiny baubles and figurines left me empty. Their shouts of look at me!, much too loud, drowned out the quiet of the manger.

This season is different.

Yes, there are still a few shiny baubles tucked among a small number of Santa Clauses from my youth.  There are sappy holiday movies. There will be Christmas cookies, parties, and gifts.

But in the hushed glow of the Christmas tree

I gaze at the past - treasured decorations from my own childhood that bring to mind Christmases gone by.

I see the fiery love that has spanned nearly two decades - beautiful ornaments and trinkets given by my love.

I hear the quiet of the Heavenly hosts holding their breath in anticipation of God becoming man.

I feel the lump in my throat, as I swallow hard & resolve to no longer mar Christmas with my own self-indulgence.

I hear the beat of my own heart as I prepare Him room and wait expectantly for His arrival.

November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving Doesn't End Here

The calendar page is turning from a grist mill surrounded by vibrant oranges and reds, to an old red barn blanketed by white...peaceful, expectant.

As much as I need this Advent season to focus my heart on the arrival of the God-child, I am sad to see November go. A month of intentionally giving thanks, of seeing Him in splendor more glorious than even the most beautiful autumn hues. Some of those sights are recorded here for all to see. Some, highly treasured, are written only on my heart.

And then there are these:

~the first playing of the Ave Maria

~a sweet sister in Christ, returning from China with big smiles and bright eyes bearing witness to His work

~God's gracious, incredibly generous provision

~my dear husband's words that woo and soothe my savage heart

~time alone with my closest friend, celebrating her life and just how much it means to my own

~my daughter's wisdom, knowing what I need when I don't even know it myself

~unpacking treasures from the attic.  Among them, a stocking crocheted by my grandmother, a nativity painted by my mom, and the angel that sat atop our family's tree each year until it was passed down to me.

November is coming to an end, but a thankful heart never stops looking for the One who provides us with every good gift. He is all around us, waiting to be found.

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. ~Jeremiah 29:12-13 (ESV)

November 29, 2010

A Season Set Apart

Her head is bent, face hidden behind a curtain of curls. She stumbles over words, tough ones like Ephrathah. Yet she continues reading the Word of The One who will come. Then she reads about a Christmas tradition. We are reminded that we can find Christ in our celebration. He is everywhere, hidden beneath the boxes and bows, ornaments and obligations, food and festivities.  And I wonder if He willingly humbled Himself to this as He did to the manger and the cross.

She lights the first candle and my heart is set afire with hope. Hope that this season will be different. That we will look for Him more earnestly. That we will no longer relegate Him to the background, but celebrate Him more fully.

The candle burns brightly in the corner of our kitchen. It illuminates the Word and this year's Advent resource.  An ordinary kitchen table has been set apart for this season, an altar for the three of us to gather round each night in the dark quiet and prepare for the birth of our Immanuel.

How are you preparing for Him this season?  Leave a comment here to share, and visit Ann and Christmas Change (both must reads) to see how others are practicing Christmas.

holy experience

November 23, 2010

What's On My Nightstand: November

What's On Your Nightstand

Just Finished:

~Women's Ministry in the Local Church. I cannot recommend this book enough. This thought-provoking, Biblical approach to women's ministry goes beyond the current fluff served up to women.

Currently Reading:

~Jayber Crow. My first time reading Wendell Berry. I'm loving the rich language of this book, even though it's not a fast-paced read.

~The Holiness of God. Wow.

~Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure. I'm working my way through this one slowly. It's not a light read, but it's heaviness is rich wisdom.

For Advent:

~Through the Year with Martin Luther: A Selection of Sermons Celebrating the Feasts and Seasons of the Christian Year. Luther's capacity to gain so much information and insight from a few words of Scripture constantly astounds me.

~Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas. I want to begin this one on December 1st so that I can read it right up until Christmas, but waiting is so hard.

Up Next:

~The Chosen. I've heard raves about this one. Anyone read it?

~Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives. Because I need this. So badly.

~A Way with Words: What Women Should Know about the Power They Possess. Because I need this one, too. So badly.

You can see what others are reading here.

November 22, 2010

Simple Beginnings

The title grabbed my attention, How to Keep Your Desk Clear. I want that, I thought.

I read. I re-read.

I thought about how I could make it happen for my desks, at work and at home.  I implemented some of the suggestions at work right away.

Who knew a clear desk could make such a difference?

But it has! In my attitude, my focus and my productivity.

It's been nearly three years since I declared 2008 the Year of Peace and Simplicity (relive the journey under the Yearly Themes tab at the top of the page).  When the year ended, I intended to make it a life-long process, but it hasn't quite worked that way.  Simplicity is wooing me again.  I find myself letting go and rearranging and seeking to make the most of what we have, to treasure it.

I'll be writing more about that in the days and months to come.  For today, I'm thankful for a clear desk.

November 19, 2010

The Tall & Short of It

Wait, he says.

I think she's taller than you.

And so my girl and I stand back to back, shoulders brushing. Does she feel it, the time growing short as she grows tall?  His hand moves from light brown to darker, straight to curly.  He declares us the same height.

And I smile, though I feel like crying.

It won't be long before I'm the smallest in the family. I already feel so small 

when I remember how a ruptured appendix could have ended her life in my womb;

when I recall our first meeting and seeing her, so new, in her dad's arms;

when I reflect on one of the first times she said Jesus, holding out her hands to me, closing her eyes and saying Let's touch Him now;

when I look back at the night she found salvation and the morning she was baptized;

when I listen to her talk about youth group and Bible study, friends and activities;

when I realize how special she is and how humbled I am to be chosen as her mother.

I feel so small at those times, but smaller still when I think about how quickly these first 12 years have gone and how much faster the next 6 will go. I'm running out of time to teach, to model, to encourage, to love.

For now I will cherish the sound of her calling Mommy, though each time I wonder if it will be the last.

For now, I will continue to look her in the eye, though I know soon I'll be looking up.

For now, I am thankful that I still have a girl in my home.

November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving - Day 18

How long has it been since God arrived in my mailbox? I've had good intentions to reach out and let Jennifer know she is loved. I've let the multitude of ordinary tasks crowd out the chance to do something extraordinary.

And then He showed up in my mailbox again.  Jennifer, reaching out to thank her correspondent.  The girl with so much less than I, giving me the gift of life.  She writes of her family and friends, her hobbies.  She draws a picture of three hearts.  I see mine, hers, and His.  There, in the middle of her words I find the Word, encouragement especially for me.

My heart breaks.  I have not been faithful.  And in that moment, I want to pack my bags and fly to South America and find this precious girl who knows little of abundance but gave anyway.  I want to throw her a lifeline, even though I am the one being rescued.

Today I am thankful for this child who has looked beyond her circumstances and offered love, hope and grace to a wretch like me.

And I pick up my pen to write.

November 17, 2010

Thanksgiving - Day 17

Peace came first.

Then Faith, followed by Amazing Grace, Trust in the Lord and Simplify.

I've just added Great is They Faithfulness and Give Praise.

Small signs scattered around our home, touchstones that remind me of truth and Truth.

As I remove clutter and leave only items of true worth and significance, these words stand out more. I notice them more. I cling to them more. I am challenged to live them more.

Today, I am thankful for these words and the comfort and conviction they bring.

November 16, 2010

Finding More Margin

The shrill cry of the alarm clock pierces the waves of slumber. I allow my eyes time to adjust to the darkness before rising, stealing out of our room and into my favorite chair. There, among the pens, highlighters, books, journal, and coffee, I open the Word and feast. My spirit is awakened as I rest in His presence. Quiet envelopes my soul.

Before I know it, the quiet dissipates. It has been replaced by noise, noise, noise.

cell phone

So many things clamor for my attention, I find I can't keep up and keep my sanity.  I need quiet. My family needs quiet.

I am thankful for the margin we've found, but we need more. I need more.  In an effort to bring more quiet into my life and our home, I'm:

~once again looking at each room in our home, deciding what's clutter. When my eyes fall on something, I want it to have meaning rather than just taking up space. I've already decided to take a week off after the holidays to do some major purging.

~giving myself some careful guidelines with Facebook. No more posts about what my family's doing or what we've accomplished. I'm considering it to be a ministry opportunity, as I consider my blog to be.  That calls for some changes.

~agreeing with my husband that 8:00 p.m. is the "technology curfew" in our home.  No computer or cell phone allowed, for any of us unless schoolwork demands it.

~instituting 3-P Family Fridays.  Homemade Pizza, Popcorn, and Play (board games or a family movie).

I'm sure this will continue to be a work in progress for us.  What are you doing to protect your family's margin?

November 15, 2010

Thanksgiving - Days 11 - 15

Playing catch-up today:

Day 11 - Thankful for the men & women who've sacrificed for my freedom, including my grandfather who fought in WWII.

Day 12 - Thankful that in 4 weeks, R's first semester will be over, and we'll be 1/3rd of the way there.

Day 13 - Thankful for our home. When I'm thankful for it, I don't mind cleaning it quite so much.

Day 14 - Thankful for the opportunity to teach 7th & 8th grade girls in Sunday School, including my own girl. I'm just the substitute teacher, but I love hanging out with them when I have the chance.

Day 15 - Thankful for the Lord's provision for my family through my job, which has helped make it possible for R to return to school and pursue his dream. I am thankful that I have a job that allows me to minister to my family in this way and serve them at home, too.

Visit Rebecca and Leah to see other thankful lists.

November 10, 2010

Thanksgiving - Day 10

Some time during the Year of Peace and Simplicity I discovered the effect music has in the atmosphere of our home.  I started by playing the "Singers and Standards" channel (Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra) during meal times.  I would play classical when I was reading, much to R & CJ's chagrin. I'm not quite sure how or when it happened, but they discovered that classical music is calming and very conducive to reading/studying.  Now they're just as likely as I to turn on the music. We love how it softly fills the quiet, surrounding us with beauty and carrying away the cares of the world at the same time.

Not that I'm a musical snob. In fact I'm a little schizophrenic when it comes to music, as my list of 10 favorite albums indicates.  In no particular order, they are:

1.  Sinatra's Reprise Collection
2.  Yo-Yo Ma's Appassionato
3.  When Harry Met Sally: Music From The Motion Picture
4.  George Winston's December
5.  Randy Travis' Trail of Memories: Anthology 
6.  John Waller's While I'm Waiting
7.  Big Daddy Weave's Every Time I Breathe
8.  Billie's Best
9.  Patsy Cline - The Definitive Collection
10. James Taylor: Greatest Hits

Today,  I'm thankful for music. 

(Giving thanks at Rebecca's and Leah's; also listing my 10 on the 10th at Meredith's)

November 9, 2010

Thanksgiving - Day 9

It was wonderful to see her eyes sparkle with laughter. Faint, but noticeable. In the 25 years I've known her, she's always had a gleam in her eye to match her bubbly personality. Her husband's untimely death two months ago extinguished that light.  As we sat around the table recounting stories of our youth, I saw her smile. My heart leapt when I heard the laughter burst forth from her throat.

After she left, I glanced over at my husband.  How many times have I taken him for granted?  How often do I ignore his needs in order to meet my own?  Why don't I cherish him and serve him as if today is our last day together?

Because it could very well be.

Today I am thankful for my husband and the fiery love we share.

*Still giving thanks with Rebecca & Leah.

November 8, 2010

Thanksgiving - Days 6, 7, & 8

She was a blur this weekend. My girl flitted in and out of the house, barely stopping long enough to eat and sleep. When she is home I often find myself staring her in the eye and wondering who this stranger is, the one who doesn't have to look up to me and who borrows my shoes. Even though I hardly recognize her these days, our home feels empty without her.

Still, I am thankful.

Thankful that she could spend a night with my parents and make memories with my dad.

Thankful that she could spend an afternoon and night with a friend who recently lost her dad.

Thankful that she was eager to go to church last night and spend time with the youth group.

All good things, true blessings.  But I'll be thankful when she decides to spend some time at home again, too.

November 5, 2010

Thanksgiving - Day 5

Elliot, Lloyd-Jones, Tchvidjian, Sproul, Duncan and Hunt. Then, of course, there's the the sword.

I start and end my days with them.  They are now familiar friends, stacked on tables throughout our home.





Today I am thankful for those mighty men & women of God who share their wisdom.

November 4, 2010

Thanksgiving - Day 4

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. - Proverbs 17:17, ESV

I've discovered many things this past year.  One of the greatest has been my need for true friends.

Those who love with a hand-dirtying, death-defying, self-sacrificing love that is only possible because the nourishment of the True Vine courses through their veins.

Those whose knees are bloody from the battlefield of prayer, who've stood fast in the gap when I can't find my own voice.  My Father has not ignored their constant, earnest pleas on  my behalf.

Those who have faithfully and patiently sharpened me with the Word.  I am prone to follow my own course, and they gently bring me back to the Way, the Truth, the Life.

Near and far, these are the friends I cherish.  They are more precious than silver or gold.  Today, and every day, I thank God for each one of them.

*Continuing a November of thanksgiving at Rebecca's & Leah's.

November 3, 2010

Thanksgiving - Day 3

As a young girl, I couldn't wait to leave. To shake the dust off my Bass blucher moccasins and get out of this town that never understood me. Suitcases in hand, I tore out of here eager to separate myself from the smallness of my life here.

It wasn't long before I accepted the fact that the very thing I didn't want to be defined by was the one thing that defined me most.

I am a small town girl, and I'm thankful.

Thankful that I live in a place where my morning commute is slowed by tractors and trucks carrying hay bales rather than stop lights and cars with horns blaring;

that rush hour traffic means that my drive home takes 15 minutes instead of 12;

that if I forget my wallet, I can walk into the bank and get money from my account;

that I can feel comfortable when my daughter spends time at her friends' homes, because I've known their parents since we were children ourselves;

that she has classes with first cousins and can ride the bus to my parents' house;

that my town is the kind of place where you can buy a pumpkin in the gas station parking lot;

that the post office has a dry erase board with birthdays and community announcements.

So what if I listen to Yo-Yo Ma while driving a truck? This is where I belong.

Today, I am thankful for home.