Day 1 : Thankful for Voting

I chose to take advantage of early voting. I was afraid if I waited until election day to vote, some.thing  might come up that had the potential to keep me from getting to the polling place. What if the day started late, I found that I had to make a run to Joy’s school, I had a fever, was responsible for carpool and it rained all day? What if I twisted my ankle running, had a big kid who needed a listening ear for a few hours or had car trouble? What if the lines were so long that it took several hours to get to the booth? I just didn’t want to risk it.

So, I went early.
.
This was Glory’s first Presidential election. I went with her on election day to walk her through the wonderful process. While we heard that they had a steady flow of people throughout the morning, the room was fairly empty when we visited.

I’m so thankful to live in this country
where we have the opportunity to cast a vote
for the men and women who represent us in our government
at the local, state and national level.
.
I’ll admit that I don’t understand how there is such a disconnect in the eyes of the people
between the current peril in our country and the people who are running it.
I hear time and time again, “It’s not Obama’s fault.”
People defend him like he is a first cousin or a brother … like they p.e.r.s.o.n.a.l.l.y  know his character.
Well … if our economy was bustling
and unemployment was minuscule,
taxes were being lowered and
our country’s indebtedness was being paid down …
would we hear, “Oh, no. Obama doesn’t get credit for that.”
Sadly, I do not think so.
I am a firm believer in accepting responsibility for
all of our actions – right and wrong  … positive and negative … good and bad.
.
So, that very short rant
really isn’t about Obama at all … it is about our country  as a whole
and the people who comprise it as individuals.
I fear we are moving deeper into a culture of blame
rather than one where each man, woman and child accepts
personal responsibility for their own actions.
I hear it in conversation when I am around strangers,
I hear it from acquaintances and friends
and I hear it coming from the mouth of some in my own family.
That having been said, we still have the right to vote.
In other countries, citizens are not asked whom they would prefer in charge.
Our government is run
by men and women who were chosen to have their positions.
And so, I give thanks to be a part of this country
where my vote counts.
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Day 1: I am thankful for the opportunity to vote.

Birthday Surprise!

We completely surprised them.

We only made our final plans to head to south Georgia on Thursday afternoon. Things were up in the air as to whether or not Glory could join us. I still hadn’t even washed my dirty clothes from the reunion the weekend before. The house is currently upside down with the rearrangement of living areas. This certainly wasn’t the trip that was planned months ahead like our end-of-summer St. Andrews/south Georgia vacation.

Friday, while girls snoozed and I drove, I remembered that my Mom’s birthday falls right after Joy’s and we would be oh.so.close that we really should find a way to dip over by the lake before we trekked home. I knew it would be a stretch to convince Glory this was a good thing with a boyfriend waiting back in Augusta … but she was game and I was thrilled.

So, Sunday morn, we dug deep into our haphazardly packed, shallow luggage that held clothing for a mere two days and found something that would pass for “church clothes” … quite a feat for a weekend’s worth of horseback riding, football cheering and swimming clothes.  My bag was so poorly packed that I found myself in need of borrowing a dress from Della.  I hadn’t even brought a pair of jeans since our packing was intentionally light as trunk space in Glory’s Mustang is quite minimal. And as the sun crested over the trees to brighten the inside of Summerhill Farm, we showered, packed and drove away …..
with surprise on our minds.

We were a.l.m.o.s.t late. The choir was filing into the sanctuary when we walked into the room … yet they didn’t see us from their vantage point. It wasn’t until Mom and Dad both sat down in the choir loft and surveyed the area that they spied us. We were as pleased as they were to be there!

Mom and Dad attend a rural Methodist church with a pastor who must be in his late seventies, at least. Age is no reason to become dull …. his sermons always ’cause me to think. He steps on toes and challenges and I really enjoy his messages. This week, we heard about Sloth, one of the seven deadly sins.  He, of course, talked about matrimony. The wedding is an event …. marriage is an ongoing labor. “Laziness is a primary reason for failure of human relationships.” I loved that thought … so true … and such a challenge. I think I will paint that one onto canvas.

And what if … we, as women, put as much intentional focus, as great an energy on the details of pleasing and respecting our husbands throughout our lives as we did for those few months that we spent travailing over that small window of time that others gathered to watch us create a union?  What if?

Mom and Dad often enjoy lunch at a Jack Wingate’s restaurant, around the corner from their home. We knew we’d have the chance at fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, several fresh vegetables and yeast rolls. But, better than that, we’d have the chance to fellowship with my folks for just a bit before we had to begin to make our way home.

We didn’t have much time to hang around, but Daddy convinced us to run by their house for just an hour. This gave us a chance to check in on neighbors, chat for just a few and walk down to the dock. It didn’t seem like much, but it seemed to be important to daddy … and I’m so glad that we took that time.

The days are fleeting. We lived in Bainbridge – just a 30 minute drive – before we moved to Augusta. But, my folks lived busy lives just like our young, little homeschooling family. We didn’t see them often. We would certainly travel their way more often if my van were in better condition. The day will soon come when we will have no choice: replace her or walk. I’d choose the first right now, if I was able. But, God has been faithful to keep her running when we need and provide a way to-and-fro when she is not … and I know His faithfulness will continue. This past weekend, we traveled in Glory’s car … which is always a treat.

As we count blessings here in the middle of a week of birthday celebrating, I add to my list of beautiful blessings
things for which I am grateful
my list of  One Thousand Gifts …

364.  a laundry hamper full of dirty clothes from visiting high school friends a week ago …
365.  lush, green south Georgia grass with blades wide and dense
366. the look of surprise on my Daddy’s face
367. a tremendous grin and hug from my Mama
368. baked chicken and fresh salad on a buffet
369. Giggles, a waitress at Jack’s …  and her warm, congenial personality
370. familiar Methodist hymns on a piano played by nimble fingers
371. a pastor who is brave enough to step on toes. He said, “See, you can stay home if you don’t want to hear what I have to say … but I have to be here and I have to say what the Lord has told me to preach.”  And I wanted to stand up and applaud.
372. the gentle roll of hills as you round the bend and head down to the lake
373. a best friend whose closet is filled with an eccentric style like mine
374. a little red Mustang that travels far and fast
375. dozens and dozens of policemen that stopped cars OTHER than ours as we traveled
376. matching traveling pillowcases
377. iPods full of gorgeous driving music
378. peanuts turned and drying in fields
379. the smell of fresh dirt
380. girls who sleep while Mama drives
381. a boy who waters birds and feeds dogs and cats so we can traipse across the state
382. money for gasoline
383. three banana pudding bowls, each with a birthday candle
384. still, settled lake water under a beautifully aging wooden dock
385. a sweet mama and daddy who are always thrilled to see us

Mama, I love you! I hope you have a wonderful birthday!!
{{{{hugs}}}}} and blessings to you!

The gifts present and to come

This is a photo of the door that leads from my bedroom
onto the deck on the back of my house.
It is when I stand in this spot
that I first see autumn.


By the time that I took this particular photo last year,
the tree on the left had already released her green
to turn to rust, amber and olive
and then to drift to the ground.
But, just a few weeks before, if the bare tree just to the left is still dressed in foliage,
there is a small circle created at the top of the canopy of these trees
and THAT is where I first see fall.
That little orb
encircles the first autumn color in my world …
and then I know: she is near.

Last week, the mornings were cooler,
the humidity lower,
the breeze brisker.

The door is not yet open,
but a hand is poised with the handle turned
that the door may soon be open
for fall to flood our lives with color and cooler temps.

Here and there, I see the tell-tale signs
that she is near.

Somehow, autumn is my New Year. It is in autumn that reflect on the speed of the last year and those things that have passed of late. The coming of the still and quiet nears and we prepare to rest. Fall brings a slowing down of
the pace,
the mind,
the spirit
and the soul.

And I settle.

Like never before, contentment permeates my being.
Though turmoil rolls and boils in the relationships in my world
and I ache … yet, I am powerless.

While I wonder about the future … ponder the details ….
how God will provide and I question what my world will look like …
I am not fretful.

We walk through our days, one step at a time.
I try my best to keep our world quiet.
Joy & I go to bed at eight.

Our activities away from home during the week are limited and
we eat out seldom …
only venturing to a restaurant
when we might be seated and served by sweet Glory at her place of employment.

We stay home, sit still, intentional to be quiet.

Trees molt
leaves gather
critters hide
autumn falls
and winter draws nigh.

And as I embrace these last smatterings of heat,
enjoy this last bit of humidity
dawdle in what is left of summer,
I remember a good year in all of its beauty
and the days of late.

With the richest of blessings filling my life,
I count ….

343. kayaks floating upon swift water and strong arms and backs
344. endurance
345. a lingering itch that reminds me of past fun
346. belly laughs, hardware and The Swan
347.  the full moon, round and bright and quiet still nights
348. shrimp skin left from a past meal
349. thunderstorms dumping water upon fire rings still aglow
350. a van filled with sand and salty dampness
351. the smell of muggy bathing suits, moist towels, and sunscreen
352. eleven year old’s footprints on the windshield of a van
353. bench seats and captains chairs sitting in the house
that the van can be filled with tents, bikes and sleeping bags
354. dreams of Hunting Island and anticipation of fun to come
355. basking in grace
356. tattoos that proclaim individual style
357. anecdotes to teach us lessons
358. friendships that stir up passion because they matter
359. loving much
360. learning not to be an enabler
361. a black tee that proclaims “celebrate”
362. the loving arms of a grand father
363. a pontoon boat and hair blowing wild in the wind

Seasonal Blossoms

This plant stand has blessed my porch since Valdosta … filled with begonias and begging a “good morning” greeting for years. From Lamplighter Road to Cat Creek Road (both Valdosta), to Bethel Road (Bainbridge) to Fort Gordon (Augusta) and now here in Montclair (Augusta). That covers about thirteen years. I’ve never seen them NOT in bloom. Yes, I fill a hole with a new plant when one withers away. All I do is water her when she’s dry and pull her inside when the temps dip below freezing. Hardy? Yes. And hearty? Oh, yes.

The glisten of the petals as light sifts through their thin skin astounds me every time I see it. If there is glitter in the natural world, it lives on the breast of hummingbirds, on the wings of butterflies and in the bloom of begonia. The luminescence makes me smile.I’m watching my ornamental cabbage bolt right now. I guess I bought a miniature variety because I planted these plants and they stayed nestled down in their winter bed with a blanket of mini-pine bark … and they never moved. They didn’t grow at all. 

Now that the sun is stronger and the days are longer, I’m noticing that the dark foliage is bolting, while the white is not.

I wonder if the idea that dark colors absorb light/heat and white reflects it comes into play here?

I’ve given a good bit of thought to my choice of seasonal greenery.  I figure, twenty dollars spent twice a year to spruce up the entry way to my home is money well spent.  It brightens my day and helps my home look tended and welcoming.

But, this year has been somewhat of a surprise. The cabbage stayed tiny and the pansies have JUST recently started to bloom well.

How often does this happen? We plant. We tend. We wait. But, we don’t get the results we desire or expect.

That’s life isn’t it? Christian or non-Christian. Male and female. Young and old.

The only thing
we can control in life
is our attitude.

I choose to be thankful for the seasonal blossoms … whenever they arrive.
I continue to count ….
One Thousand Gifts
I give thanks for

372. pansy blooms … ridden with evidence that they have been the meal of a “pest.” Food for my visual soul has become food for a physical soul.
373. bolting. growth after rest. turning to seed that new life can come. tall, lankiness in shades of green, hues of violet.
374. seasons that are constant. we know what to expect. a world created with order and organization.
375. natural glitter … embedded into petals and wings and feathers. to tantalize our eyes.
376. paper-thin petals of salmon pink … a year round beauty to behold.
377. cardinals … sifting through seeds … spitting out hulls … chirping from our feeder that spring is near.
378. one last load of firewood … to warm the inside while a chill lingers indoors
… knowing that the temp will rise soon.
379. a day spent with Glory … and a drive home from a close by city ending with the  usual mother/daughter position: me behind the wheel, her asleep in the seat beside me. She still makes me swoon.
380. bare tulip trees … finished with their spring extravagance and soon to be covered in green while dogwood and azalea are ready to follow the lead.
381. cat hair on the head rest of a chair … the place he spends his evenings of late, watching other kit-kats do an occasional walk by. I’m thankful  he has remained safe for almost six years now, though we live terribly close to a street. I enjoy him. 

Giving thanks isn’t “normal”

Joy carries a soapbox in her back pocket that she frequently pulls out, unfolds and assembles. And she’s fast, let me tell you!  She will toss it to the floor in any situation and promptly place herself on top, turning herself strategically in my direction … in hopes of having her point hit home so that I will jump ship from my position and embrace hers.

Her most recent soapbox oration began with an enthusiastic, “MOM! It isn’t “normal” to clap and cheer when your gauges decide to work again!!  Most people E.X.P.E.C.T the gauges on their dash to tell them the speed of their car and how much gas they have. In fact, they expect them to start working when you crank the car!” I laugh at her comedic new approach and appreciate that she is a persistent child … and I remind her that our gauges have worked for a few months AND we are not buying a new vehicle right now.

My dear van had temperamental gauges for at least four or five years.   I would drive without gauges as long as nine months … and them *BAM!*  I would be on I-20 going 65 and the gauges would come on, the doors would auto lock and I would be able to see how much gas I had. I might have this luxury for three weeks …. or maybe just for the rest of this particular drive. Upon cranking again, the gauges were likely defunct.

Back in the fall, I thought Celia might just fall apart on me.  I felt like I was living in a cartoon world, driving along with springs springing, doors falling off and tires rolling off my vehicle and into the ditches. In the past six months, I’ve spent over three thousand dollars on repairs and upkeep. I have done everything from replacing two tires to replacing a fuel pump, water pump & radiator. The list is long. Included in this list, is the repair of an instrument cluster … the brain of (among other things) the gauges.

It’s been a tough call.  I’d LOVE to buy another vehicle. I could have almost half paid for a new-to-me used vehicle with this 3,000. But, I’m an unemployed, single student. I’m not a real likely candidate for a car loan, ya know?

Thomas at Butler Automotive has been my hero. Their customer service is outstanding.  I don’t have to sheepishly ask if I can puhhllleeez get a ride back home.  Thomas OFFERs it to me as we finish up our conversation. How cool is that?

I have finally paid off my repairs. Just before a recent trip to the mountains, my windshield wiper motor went out, the motor on my drivers side window died and my transmission began to protest. I backed out of my driveway, put my van into forward gear … and didn’t move. Oh, how my heart sank.

Praise God, out of nowhere, I was given the gift of a new windshield wiper motor. In talking to the shop, we were able to keep the transmission moving for now. But …. the window motor …… I’m counting this breakdown as a gift.

“Mom, it isn’t “normal” to have to duct tape your window UP so it won’t SLIDE down while you are driving.”

And she’s right.

But, as I drove up to Dunkin Donuts drive-thru the other day, I thought, “This is just T.O.O awkward ….. T.O.O much trouble” … and I kept going.

And it hit me! This is a gift!!! My broken, driver’s side window motor is a precious, sweet gift to me from my Savior …. the one who wants to save me … even from myself!!

I just had to praise God and thank Him … knowing that I wouldn’t go through a drive-thru as often was probably a really good thing. It’s good for my health (not eating fast food) and it’s good for my wallet (saving that extra money).

So, Joy is still pushing to buy a new vehicle,
once again I’m praising God.
Thanking Him for the gift of a window that is – at least temporarily – sealed shut
so that I am no longer (as) tempted to run through a drive-thru.
And for black duct tape … it even matches the trim on my van!!

The duct tape probably embarrasses Joy just a bit.  But, to be honest, I can only think of one particular person that I absolutely would not want to see my repair work: Steve Jobs. I’m thinking that he probably wouldn’t appreciate my window sealant placement.  I can say that I tried to move my sticker ….. to another WINDOW so Apple wouldn’t even been associated with such a tacky mess … but that proud little emblem is pretty darn sticky. It was freezing the day I had to seal the window shut.  I just had to let it go. I’m really sorry, Mr. Jobs.  I’ll try to get it fixed soon and uncover your sticker.

I’d like to add  to my list of 1,000 gifts: Ann Voskamp's Inspiration of counting the gifts in our lives ... the everyday and extraordinary

365. a van window that stays closed
366. gauges that I use every time I drive
367. black duct tape
368. a transmission that continues to function – with a little tlc
369. Thomas & the crew at Butler Automotive
370. a daughter with a portable soapbox
371.  a daughter whose spirit of persistence is fierce and fiery

Makes Me Happy Monday : Gifts

My Friday night starts with a phone call. Joy has had a visitor over so she wasn’t ready to go to her dad’s house. She tells him that she will be ready at 6:00. By 6:20, Daddy hasn’t called or arrived so she calls him.

The conversation about when he would arrive was difficult. When she told him to be here at 6:00, he said, “I’ll just pick you up in the morn.” She talks him into coming on over. She hangs up and says to me, “I shouldn’t have to beg daddy to come get me.”

I mourn. But, I don’t say anything
to him
to her.
I just tell her that I am sorry.
Because I am.

He doesn’t always arrive when he says that he will, so she has learned to take her time getting ready for departure. Thus, he often has to wait for her when he does finally arrive. I have always been the disciplinarian.  But, I have made the decision to try to stay out of the turmoil between Joy and her daddy. So, I don’t say anything. I’ll let him handle this situation. As far as I have known, he has not gotten on to her … at least, not the point that she has made a change in promptness. This has been going on for months.

She and I are sitting on the couch together, she’s reading a book and I’m reading a blog. She calls. Among the conversation, he tells her, “It’s your turn to wait,” and he will arrive within an hour.

I can’t stand it anymore. I have to say something. I text him to let him know that she is hurt and that I will make sure that she is ready from now on. (Why do I always step in and try to “fix” things???) He gets angry with me and tells me that he was kidding with her. I am in the way. He does not want my help. But, I don’t want them to be strangers in a few years. I see it going that way … one injury after another. It’s already so with the man/child …. and it is heading that way with the girls.

I heard his tone. There was not jest in his voice. I would certainly recognize that in “Comedy.”  And, no matter what I heard, she was hurt by his statement ….
in fact, by both of them.

Ann’s book sits beside my bed. I’ve read three chapters.

When I ordered, Amazon asked me if this will be a gift?
I check “yes.”

It comes gift wrapped and I slowly tear away the paper of blue
to reach the words in black.

Sometimes it’s difficult to read Ann’s blog. I spent twenty years listening to speaker, teacher and preacher alike tell me of the high calling of motherhood. I believe my place is in the home with my children … living beside them, teaching them, leading them. I belong at home with a book in hand, papers scattered across the dining table, living my life with and beside my gifts … my blessings … my children.

I would rather be home.

But, I am in school. My home rattles empty off and on through the day. My youngest is off learning, among other things, “do unto others the way that they do to you.” I hate it.

So, while others are reading Ann’s tender words
and learning to embrace soap bubbles on lunch dishes and scattered legos,
I wonder, “How do I do this, Lord?”
How do I glorify you
as I do this thing that I know You don’t prefer ….
but that You allowed?
letting someone else raise my child?
leaving my home and my calling?
so that I can go off and make money? *shudders*
Lord, I have no dishes at lunch … no scattered legos.
And can you tell me, Lord, why did you allow this thing to happen?
I don’t yet understand.
So far … I’ve certainly learned one lesson:
I can’t fix everything.
Maybe that’s the point?

I almost feel “in the way” in my own story …
because I feel out of place….
an awkward feeling of “where do I stand?” prevails
while I watch a room full of graceful dancers … all these other women
working around me and appear to be completely comfortable.
I don’t know where I belong.
And, where I want to belong,
I am no longer allowed to tarry.

Comedy wrote me an email recently telling me
that I need to quit “playing the victim.”
victim: a person harmed, injured, or killed
as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action.
he said I was “playing the victim” …. does he think I am acting?
Because, yes, I was harmed as the result of an event.
I’ll accept that definition.

And like most crimes, it may take some time to recover.

As a homeschool Mom, I have always heard
for each year a child was in traditional school,
it will take them one month to adjust to being homeschooled.
If that can translate to marriage,
I still have plenty of time to adjust to divorce
after a twenty-five year marriage was lost.

Ahh, but the cover of Ann’s sweet book even reads,
“A dare to live fully ….. right where you are.”
Right .. where .. you .. are.

And maybe that is where the problem lies:
I don’t know where I am.

And so, I continue to read
one page at a time
and thank Him.

Before dawn, I walk back and forth from one side to the other
pulling taut the crumpled sheets
– lingering cozy on flannel that moments ago cocooned my body warm –
and I think on this book.
The dog is at my feet wishing me a good morning.
She must turn her head so as not to meet my knee with a thud
as I pass back and forth
back and forth.
“Yes, Dulcie, you are in the way.”

Or … maybe it’s me … maybe I am the one in the way.

So, here on this Makes Me Happy Monday,
I return to my list of One Thousand Gifts
and count the beauty in my days…..
…. I search for them …
and for my place in the snapshot of my life
for things aren’t easy yet
and I’m just not sure where I should stand.

Thank you, Lord, for …..

344. crumpled flannel sheets of warmth
345. a canine happy to see me in the morning
346. hot coals, evidence of the gift of wood
347. a daddy that still comes to pick her up
348. bird’s nests – a home made for babies out of tiny twigs
…. knitted together with love and persistence
349. the ability to read
350. creativity that spills into every area of my life
351. a van that continues to run (I say “thank you, Lord” daily)
352. after five months of payments, the van repair is finally paid in full
AND the van is still currently running!!! Praise God!
353. fellowship with friends over Raisin Bread French Toast and fresh fruit
354. a Sunday School teacher who always comes to class prepared
355. violinist accompaniment in the worship service at church
356. roadside trash pick up in my neighborhood
357. bulbs that I KNOW are moving within the ground
… as they get ready to burst forth with new life in bloom
358. chick-a-dee-dee-dees
359. echinacea – a gift to my immune system
360. witch hazel – another natural gift from God’s medicine cabinet
361. found objects from the paths of life
that I work into art for my walls
362. a playground within sight of my front porch
363. leaves on the floor by my door that let me know that
we have been healthy and traveling in and out throughout the weekend
364. (in)courage and bloom book club

Won’t you join us? As we read through Ann’s book, One Thousand Gifts?
(My deepest apologies.  I absolutely cannot get my links to be active this morning. But, you can go to:
http://www.incourage.me/category/bloom to find out more
or read Ann’s blog at http://www.aholyexperience.com)

Trust and Faith … like a bird

The ice
taps on the window.
*ping* *ting* *click*
The bird feeder … heaped with the evidence
of another frozen storm
dumped upon a part of the world
where many people hardly own a heavy overcoat
much less frozen-world gear.

It is barely sun-up and the birds are congregating under the feeder
where the only seeds on top of the blanket of white
are those thrown out of the feeder by a avian who has recently dined.
Two at a time, they take turns under the protection of the dome
to feast on the seeds and morsels waiting there in the cold.
Cardinal, Sparrow, House wren, Chickadee.
Titmouse, Oriole and some tiny tot I’ve never seen before.
I watch them through the bay window and realize there are dozens searching
on the ground where dregs have fallen
so I toss several cups full of seed from the front porch
and watch the scattered group
converge on new provisions.

The tiny ice pellets continue to fall.

The road in front of my home has not yet been traveled today.
Long before tire marks emboss this surface,
foot prints will decorate the sidewalks
as children find a makeshift sled and traipse to the park
a stones throw from my front porch stoop.
It is the only place in the neighborhood with a “hill” of any kind
if you can call that stubble of an incline a “hill.”

Not so very long ago, I read advice that said to put bird feed out for birds only when snow or ice cover the ground. I wondered? Really? Why, some years we would never have opportunity to give gifts of seeds to our feathered friends! I keep out feeders year round. I can understand that birds don’t really NEED food during the spring, summer and fall, but I love having a close up view of them as they flit onto the feeder and then bounce away.

I wondered about the winter, though. We don’t have much snowfall. We don’t spend days or weeks cloaked in white. But, our winters still appear barren to me … especially to me, an urbanite (or suburbanite, depending on your opinion). There are no wide open fields for the birds to glean … no thickets for them to scour. Our ground is spotted with green, but mostly buildings, homes, businesses and roads.

How do the birds up north survive? Do they ALL migrate south? Do any winter over in the frozen chill?

My mind rolls with thoughts of God.
– So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:21 He created them.
– I know every bird in the mountains,
and the insects in the fields are mine. Psalm 50:11  They are His and He knows them.
– Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26
They do not reap, sow or store, but He feeds them.

Having seen several storms in the few past years, I understand more fully
why feeders aren’t needed
until most food is veiled in white.
But, then, yes, it is necessary.
Of course, here, our veil is short-lived.
Surely, the birds wouldn’t die in just a day or two.
But, I bolster the offering just the same.

If He feeds the birds,
won’t he surely feed me?
I trust.
He will care for us as we are near “the end.”
Soon, I will be out of school… nine weeks.
Soon, my insurance will end … May.
Soon, Comedy I will have a change of income
that will leave me with less.

I have to trust.

trust.

I don’t know what it will look like,
but somehow it will be alright.
And I don’t mean “alright” in the “American sense.”
I don’t know if we will continue to live like we live, or where we live.
I’m not sure if we will eat the way we do … fresh fruits & vegetables … meat when we want.
Will we frequent a food pantry?
I can’t know whether we will even have a vehicle.
Will we have to give away our pets?
Will we travel? Adventure? Camp?
I just don’t know.
But, somehow, I trust things will be okay.

I continue to count and be thankful.
I continue to choose to praise.
I continue to have faith … and to trust.

I continue to add to my list of One Thousand Gifts,
I am thankful for …

330. quiet, still, dense quiet
331. a cold shoulder from someone once a friend – that I may practice mercy and grace
332. a robe of pink left behind … to remind me of a girl who has moved on
333. the learned ability to hold my tongue … most of the time
334. the gift of living in a place with four beautiful, rich seasons
335. a wood rack filled to the brim with wood, dry, seasoned and ready to burn
336.  joy
337. the music of a pre-teen coming from an strings and instrument perched upon her shoulder
338. a comfy Goodwill chair that fits in our den as if we had chosen the covering from a catalog
339. angels and snowflakes that remain on my mantle as I choose to leave up Christmas for just a bit longer
340. coffee, creamer, and vanilla caramel
341. a sound mind
342. and a body that does what I ask without complaint
343. the spiritual insurance … of salvation

Makes Me Happy Monday : Snow

It’s almost an embarrassment to call this snow.
Water
frozen into intricate crystals
floating like manna from the heavens
but,
in comparison to just a few states north of Georgia,
to call this “snow” would be laughable.

But, to this Georgia girl, this is amazing. Because last year, we had several inches of snow on Valentine’s Day. This year, it came the day after Christmas.

The ground will allow a little snow to settle, but for the most part
the snow finds its home on items that freeze quickly
like kayaks and bicycles, cars and decks.
The ground never will completely freeze here in our southerly area
so on those isolated occasions when snow falls
it rarely accumulates.

And it didn’t even fully cover the remnants of fall,
gold and olive green
turned brown and still.

Even as I look out my bay window,  parts of our world
are still under the misrepresentation that  autumn lingers.
You can see the oak and the dogwood in the neighbor’s yard …
snow flakes falling between here and there …
those trees trying desperately to shed last season
while we have moved on past the winter solstice
and are in the midst of winter.

In all the hoopla over snow,
the one thing that I remember most from last year’s accumulation
and this years’ sprinkling
is the silence.

With flakes gently falling, the roads were quite forlorn.
So you could hear ….
the gentle sound of the snow falling
and delicately lighting on the ground.
I don’t believe I’ve ever heard a sound like it before.
Not unlike the lull of the waves at the ocean …
it’s a sound absolutely unmistakable.

You can almost year individual flakes sit down.
soft … muffled …. serene.
Such a beautiful sound.

While the flakes individually are amazing,
and an accumulation of snow a blanket of beauty
it is the silent sound of the snow falling
that brings me peace and makes me happy.

319. frozen flakes of beauty
320. blustery winds that blow the debris  of autumn in circles through the street and across the yards
321. letters – strokes, jots & tittles with meaning
322. words – letters put together to represent ideas, objects, people, actions and emotions
323. concepts to put the world in order in my mind .. and yours
324. ideas that inspire me to create
325.  pine cones – feasts for squirrels, prickled and brown
326. sweet gifts from neighbors – a remembrance of the people who make up our dear, friendly  neighborhood
327. turkey and dressing, sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce – what a delicious combination
328. Pumpkin Scones from Starbucks
329. brown and white, silver and gold paint

Makes Me Happy Monday : Disappointment

It was last November or December when I found out where my summer school break would overlap Joy’s elementary school break.  So, I began to plan.  I made reservations at Florida state parks, two to three nights at a time.  I first made reservations for Rainbow Springs.

Do you ever see something that really
makes an impression on you?
Something that sticks in your mind and doesn’t leave?
This photo did that to me.This is a photo from a Florida State Parks brochure that I picked up along the way YEARS ago.  I would guess that this brochure is at least ten years old …. maybe more.  Ever since I first saw this photo, I thought, “I want to go there. I want to do that.” We’ve been close to Rainbow Springs, but never camped there.  I decided that this would be the first destination in our summer trip.

Our trip would include several days at Rainbow Springs, John Pennekamp State Park, a day or two exploring The Everglades, a stop in Tampa to visit my friend, Mary Ann, and a few days with my Mom & Dad in south Georgia. I expected to be wearing traveling shoes for almost all three weeks of my break. I was thrilled.

I worked The Masters Golf Tournament this year so I had money set aside for gas and groceries.  I planned to splurge and even do a boat tour or two and rent a jet ski for Joy and I.  I have to say that, in the past, we have always struggled so much with money, I was really looking forward to this trip.  I started early with plans and provisions.  I knew it was going to be wonderful.

But, in my gut, I had an ill feeling about the trip.  The closer it drew, the more I thought I should cancel.  I’m certainly not afraid to travel alone (rather, without a man), but my gut said there was something out of kilter.

My van has been giving me trouble for about two years. It’s had some persnickity electrical issues, but when I slide the key into the ignition, it cranks.  For that I’ve been thankful.

But, I worried that my van wouldn’t make it all the way down to the Keys.  I didn’t want to end up on some road in the middle of the Everglades with a ten-year old and a broken van.  So, I prayed.

And so, I prayed
“Lord, if the van was going to break, it would break BEFORE we left for Florida … so we know we shouldn’t go.”

The week before finals, about ten or so days before we were to pack and drive away,
the van stopped. kaput.  

And I rejoiced. No! Really!  I was so relieved.  I was so thankful that my gut feeling had been confirmed.  There WAS a problem.  And … maybe we even had time for the shop to isolate it, fix it and still get us moving before our check in dates and times.

One day at a time, the shop searched.  Days rolled into weeks. I canceled Rainbow Springs, but held out hope for John Pennekamp.  In the end, I even had to let Mary Ann know that we wouldn’t even make it as far south as Tampa.

The shop kept my van for over three weeks. They never really pinpointed the issue.  They changed a CV joint for me that was absolutely crumbled. They replaced the catalytic converter that was almost completely clogged. But, the root of the problem was not identified.  I left with a Voyager that might … or might not ….. give me trouble again.  I drove it cautiously and waited for it to become lame again so the shop could dig deeper and hunt for the source.

My three-week between-quarters summer break came and went. I did no traveling this summer.  I didn’t travel farther than ten miles from home.  Going to class was the greatest distance I drove.

As sad as I was that I couldn’t accept several invitations to the beach, travel to visit my Mom and Daddy, camp, kayak or explore …. I was thankful for God’s protection.  He had given me a gut feeling that something was not okay, He answered my prayers and He provided money to pay for repairs (my Masters money was just enough to cover everything).

I’m thankful to say that God is teaching me to be thankful
even in disappointment.
He’s teaching me to look for Him.  He’s not hard to see,
but you have to look and not dismiss Him and His activity as
chance, coincidence, luck,
fate, happenstance, destiny or serendipity.

So, today, as I add to my list of One Thousand Gifts,
I consider those things that might not look like gifts at the time.

260. a broken van … that makes me be still
261. achy joints … that remind me that, overall, I am in excellent health
262. extra weight at my waist … that reminds me that I have more than enough to eat
263. a missing nose pad that pokes the bridge of my nose
… and reminds me that I HAVE glasses in the first place
264. cracking window glazing on my windows ….
that reminds me that I HAVE a home that keeps me dry and safe
265. a sassy-mouth ten-year old lassie …. because she already thinks she’s an adult.
She is bold and brassy and will one day change people’s lives for good because she isn’t afraid to speak up.
266.  a dog that whines when we put her outside … because she loves me and wants to be with me ….
and would protect me with savage bravery
should someone try to hurt me or my own
267. a marriage that was always riddled with financial woes …
because it taught me to s.t.r.e.t.c.h every.single.dollar
268.  a husband who never loved me ….
because I learned to find my fulfillment and satisfaction in a Heavenly man
269. fall and winter … because they take away my momentum and make me rest
270. a large nose …. it taught me to never make fun of people for things that they cannot change
272. a van … that is back in the shop today …. but I trust will be running smoothly soon