April 30, 2009

and so it goes...

It is the last day... of the month I was dreading. Do you suppose dreading is the same as worrying? Perhaps... either way, I know that God did not want me to wish the month away. And as I put April in His hands... I experienced much joy... and felt the breath of Jesus all around me.

I felt it in the whisper of answers for my Mom... I felt it in the breezes as I immersed myself in nature. Easter floated by full of glory... and I was reminded once again that without the pain of Good Friday, Easter would not be so sweet. There were days... when I was gasping for breath... and as I gasped, His breath surrounded me and lifted me from my own darkness.

As the days of April grew few, and May was just over the horizon, I let go of the pain that was covering my heart and let His sweet breath heal me. And there was joy. Joy in a band concert... joy in Scholar Bowl competitions... joy in living and remembering those whose lives had brought me joy.

Goodnight April... you will come again, but perhaps you will find me basking in the afterglow...

April 28, 2009

grab each opportunity

I am not going into work today. I am not sick... but I have an important appointment to keep... I am going on a field trip with my son. The where doesn't particularly matter... it is more the why. So, why? Because he wants me to be there.

A few weeks ago he bounded in the house with permission slips in hand... and asked me if I could go with them. I think he had an arsenal of convincing reasons stuck in his pocket... because he started right in- You only got to come to one other match... But I stopped him in his tracks. Yes. I can go. The joy in his eyes was real... and his sweet smile was almost too big for his face. He wants me to be there.

My baby is almost a teen... getting closer every day... and so I am grabbing each opportunity, because I am sure that one of these days he will lower his eyes and mumble Do you have to go? I keep a hope in my heart that we will never come to that moment... but reality tells me otherwise.

I am not going to work today... and it will be a day well spent... with my son. He might not sit with me... he may not even have a chance to talk to me. But he will know that I am there.

Check out other everyday moments at Chatting at the Sky!

April 27, 2009

p is for...

Paper cranes.

One thousand paper cranes.
That is her goal... to honor a girl's life... or more, her hope. Laura has been folding paper scraps for quite a while... not nearly one thousand, but maybe one hundred. But her love of origami is not confined to the beautiful papers made for this craft... Laura will fold anything... homework, wrapping paper, a church bulletin, even a peppermint patty wrapper. I wonder if she will get there... to one thousand... because she is as generous with her paper cranes as she is her heart. She has probably given half of what she has folded... the most recent being to our friend Judy, who lost her husband. As we were sealing the card, Laura rushed in with a golden paper crane... which now hangs from the ceiling in Judy's home.

I finally sat down and read her book, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. Although the story is a sad one, there is joy in the hope that this young girl had... her determination. And also in the lives she touched... the lives of her friends... who made sure Sadako's goal was met. One thousand paper cranes... that symbolize long life, health, and good fortune.

This is our cry,
this is our prayer,
peace in the world.

I wonder what the others picked for "P"... find out over at Unglazed for more of A to Z Monday!

April 26, 2009

my soul

As the days of April are raveling quickly into May, I can feel it... the healing... in my heart... my soul. I am looking forward to May, but somehow, after these April days have passed me by, even now, I am feeling light. Perhaps it is time that has softened my heart... or perhaps the honest, heartfelt words and emotions of a new friend... all combined with Jesus. The circumstances of life may be ragged and dark... bringing on tears and anger... but as long as it is right between He and me... my soul can still sing. My soul can still sing His praises... knowing that this moment in time is temporary... fleeting... and that through the tears and the darkness, I am in the palm of His hand. Yes... it is well with my soul.

April 24, 2009

last night

Lately, the evenings have been beautiful. Bright... with a cool breeze flowing by. Too nice to be inside... and yet, most nights I still sit. Being a social kind of girl, I'd rather not walk without a buddy... and once seven o'clock hits, most everyone has settled into their own evening routine. Last night, I could hardly stand to be inside... and I thought to ask my kids to go for a walk with me. I had talked myself out of it before long... but headed out to the car in search of a nametag I need... and then I heard it. The tinny song of the ice cream truck. We haven't heard it in quite a while... two summers ago it would swing down our street every night... but there it was. In the rush to corral the kids... and find a few dollars, they missed it going by the end of the street. But the air... it was so nice. Too nice to be inside. Soon our evenings will be sticky and the air thick... but right now... we chose to seize the moment. Laura and Cam hopped on their bikes and off they went... in search of the ice cream truck. And that was enough to get me out and walking. I didn't have to keep up with their mad pace... it was enough to just be out there with them... even in the distance... even out of my sight. And I was glad. I was glad to have the push. Along the way I stopped to talk to a woman from our church, who just happened to be outside... I learned that a friend had moved into our neighborhood... and I saw the kids find the ice cream truck. What joy as they raced towards me balancing their treats- Cam's in his hand, Laura's between her teeth! In these moments I feel like I am doing my job well... Cooked a healthy dinner? Check. Played outside with my kids? Check. Allowed Laura & Cam to chase the ice cream truck? Check. Tonight my kids will likely deem me the best Mom ever... and once in a while... I need that. Even if it ends up that a certain young man now has blue teeth...

April 23, 2009

where am i?

Seeking out my blog this morning, I realize that I have been inattentive to it. I have not updated my list of things to be thankful for, though there are many. I have not even hopped on over to rest in the beautiful colors of the header. So where am I? Where have I been? Ahhh, yes. I have been on the couch reading a book... tuning out the TV, while trying to tune in the kids. I have been planning meals and concentrating on my home. Not the fixtures in my home, but what makes it home itself... the life within the walls. I am enjoying the calmness of two weeks, before the frenzy of next week week begins. But I am feeling moved... to update that list... soon.

Let me tell thee, time is a very precious gift of God;
so precious that it's only given to us moment by moment.
-Amelia Barr

April 21, 2009

two years

I was drifting in and out of sleep this morning when I heard the rain. A great whooshing sound that I have not heard for months on end... it woke me with a start... and then I woke again as I realized it was the 21st. An anniversary that I have not been dwelling on since I have turned the page... my heart has seemed at peace this April... perhaps healing just a bit more. But two years has passed. Two years since I have heard a friend's laughter and seen the joy light in her eyes. I miss her... I miss Lisa. She is never far from my mind... I still see someone at the store and think for a moment that it might be her... I still glance back at her house when I am in her neighborhood... though it lies empty.

The other day I pulled out the little memorial card from my purse, where it has lived, next to my sticky note. And I read it. No author is listed, but the sentiment on the card was so beautiful...

After Glow
I'd like the memory of me to be a happy one, I'd like to leave an afterglow of smiles when day is done. I'd like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways, of happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days. I'd like the tears of those who grieve to dry before the sun, of happy memories that I leave behind when day is done.

I smiled as I read it... and realized... I might be ready for that... I might be ready to see that afterglow that has been hanging all around me. And as I tucked the little card back into it's spot, and clipped it safely into place, I felt a bit of peace. I said another prayer for her family... and thanked God for the privilege of laughing beside my friend.

April 20, 2009

o is for...


After eight years of driving by the Florida Natural Welcome Center in Haines City,we finally stopped to check it out. We were on the way home from visiting Mickey & Minnie, and decided Why not? In the store there was a little museum, a few candies, and some orange-y gifts- and of course, free juice! I was really glad we made time for this roadside treasure. It kind of reminded me of my first trip to Florida... 25 years ago... and stopping at the Florida Welcome Center for free juice! After poking around a bit, we were started back towards home. The parking lot was full of beautiful fruit trees, and before pulling out, Eric couldn't resist a few fresh picked oranges. I would love to tell you that it was then he saw the sign...

Being the rule-following type of girl I am, I did not eat one!

I wonder what the others picked for "O"... find out over at Unglazed for more of A to Z Monday!

April 17, 2009

words on a page

I remember my first diary. It came to me in an Easter basket. One of those little five year books, where each page allotted a few lines for five years worth of a day. I was thrilled to have this little book... a place for beautiful words and stories of my life, as long as I could wind my day up in a nutshell of one sentence. I may have written in it once or twice. Until I scribbled. Once I had made that mistake and had to scribble out, that was it for me. The beauty was gone... the marred page seemed to hold me back from any inspiration... and the book would be relegated to a back corner, and eventually the trash. I suppose among the clutter that makes me me, there has always been a touch of my mother's perfectionism.

It has been that way over the years. Beautiful journals call to me. The covers washed in lovely colors... the crisp white pages beckoning for beautiful handwriting. I would vow to share my thoughts and dreams with pen to paper... and then... I drift away. Scribble or boredom... both have brought my heart to a screeching halt. I do have one book that I've actually kept... perhaps the most I'd ever written in one journal. But it haunts me... that some words too precious to part with are written on one side, and the other side contains words I wish I hadn't penned.

I have surprised myself with Beyond Grace. That I have continued to write... that the words are actually in me... that anyone would want to come and read it at all. When I started out, it was just for fun... no idea at all of the journey I would be on... no idea at all that it would allow me to begin to be the person I always thought I was. And perhaps I owe it all to the delete and backspace buttons? They free me to write and re-think an idea. They free me to have scribbled out moments, and replace them with beauty. They allow forgiveness... something my heart genuinely needs on a regular basis. And I am thankful. I am so thankful to let these thoughts and words escape my mind... if simply to make room for new words to gather.

Sometimes I believe that I can do anything
Yet other times I think I've got nothing good to bring
But You look at my heart and You tell me
That I've got all You seek
And it’s easy to believe

Try to fit the pieces together
But perfection is my enemy
On my own I'm so clumsy
But on Your shoulders I can see
I'm free to be me

-Francesca Battistelli

April 13, 2009

easter sundae

It was probably one of our most favorite Easters...
The bunny was kind... lots of eggs hidden and found... and quite a few chocolatey sweets.
Church was glorious... so many shouts of He is alive! and Christ is risen!
We shared a delicious dinner with family and friends.
And then there was dessert... the most appropriate dessert for the time and place.
Easter Sundaes!

There was ooo-ing and ahhh-ing all along the sundae bar, and each creation looked yummier than the last. It was certainly a happy ending!

n is for...


And my very own Nature Boy.

These are a few moments Camden & I have captured on our morning bird outings. He is teaching me... to love it like he does. When I was his age I think I blocked it all out... the wonders that my Mother and Grandma enjoyed. But they have taught him... and now he is teaching me. This world is a beautiful place to live... to breathe... to delight in.

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin. -Shakespeare

April 12, 2009

easter joy

The sun has not quite begun its ascent into the sky this morning... and my little corner of the world is still full of dark shadow. But my heart knows. My heart knows that it is Easter. My heart can hear the fanfare of the trumpets, and the shouts of alleluia. My heart can see the banners rippling in the wind against the bright blue sky, and my heart can see how the lilies have turned their faces to the Son. Oh yes, my heart knows... knows that the tomb is empty... knows that He has risen... risen indeed.

The past forty days, or so, have been beautiful for me... even amidst the pain of the Crucifixion. I was travelling the road, hand in hand... with my Mom. Each reading brought questions, answers and growth. Some days brought on a shock of tears... along with revelation. But every day, there was love. Between us, among us, all around us... and always... for us. But in the moments that we realized the empty tomb, we were lost... lost in a love that nearly overwhelmed us. That He would pay this ultimate price... for me. For her. That God's promises are real. And I am full of thankfulness and joy. But today, I am missing my morning talk with my Mom. The anticipation of her email, and her question... the search for the answer. This journey has been perhaps the most beautiful Easter journey of my life... sharing something with my Mom that is so precious to me... and making our way across the rocky road together. As our devotion wrapped up yesterday, we both wanted... more. But perhaps on this glorious morning, all there is left to say, is simply... Happy Easter, Mom. I love you.

April 11, 2009

what a day...

When you plan ahead, you take your chances. You hope the weather is nice... you hope everyone will be healthy... you hope that you have chosen the right day, so that you will not be disappointed. When you plan ahead, you take the chance that your planning will pay off... and sometimes, it does. For weeks we have been planning this trek out to Shark Valley with my parents. A fifteen mile bike ride through the beauty of the Everglades... with the wildlife all around us. It was our day... spectacular in every way. Clear sailing down to the park, both kids as excited as ever to get there (oh, how thankful I am for a fifteen-year-old daughter who wants to be with her family!)... and stunning wildlife. Alligators by the hundreds... all right before our eyes, and some close enough to touch (but we didn't!) And beautiful birds that make your heart skip a beat and laugh.

Oh how I love to watch the purple gallinule skip around on top of the leaves... and I had never seen the turquoise ring around the anhinga's eye (mating colors!)

Can you see all of the baby alligators? We saw them in ever shape and size... some were a little too close to the road for my comfort. It certainly had me picking up the pace!

The sights from the observation tower were beautiful... the birds in the tree tops... the gators and turtles on the ground. With a swift wind blowing, I could have stood up there and enjoyed the view all afternoon. When we finally arrived back at the beginning of the loop, we were thrilled that the nest of baby anhingas was alive with motion!

It was a day I will hold close in my heart for years to come. Not just the nature, but the reactions to this beautiful world God has created for us. Not just the excitement of seeing the wildlife up close, but both of my kids taking the Junior Ranger pledge to protect it. And family... all together... just enjoying time.

April 10, 2009

on this good friday

I am ready for church... perhaps as ready as I will ever be for a Good Friday service. My heart is full... of trepidation and of emotion that I can feel resting just below the surface. I am sure of a few things as I head out the door. I am certain that my tears will flow and my heart will break... as I listen, again, to the last words Jesus will speak on the cross. I am certain, that although He felt forsaken by God, that we never are... and never will be. I am certain that He is still with us... that He is still for us. And I am certain that come Easter, my eyes will fill again with tears... tears of thankfulness and tears of glorious love. As I ready my heart for this evening service... I will remind myself that heartbreak will come, as surely as the Son will rise.

April 09, 2009

m is for...


Laura & her very best friend finally had some time to let loose and have fun after Saturday's competition. Roller coaster after roller coaster... and laughter in between everything. We were glad to be able to do this for them... after all of their hard work. There is something about the exhilaration of moving faster and faster that can release all of the stress. And it was a stressful week. For them it was preparation for competition and fitting in schoolwork. For us it was getting them ready for competition, making sure they made time for schoolwork, and fitting in all of our other responsibilities. Another kind of motion, completely! While the Mom's joined them on every roller coaster ride, we decided to sit out the mad spinning. Because sometimes the best cure for motion... is resting.

I enjoyed everyone's A to Z Monday... I hope you will for give me for posting on Wednesday.

April 08, 2009

they did their best

It was a long weekend... following a very long week. Late nights... last minute problem solving... and finishing touches on creations from their imaginations. But they were ready to take on the state... and their goal was to qualify for the world competition, placing first or second. The trailer was carefully loaded with each and every handmade, team created costume and prop. Mr. Snowy Owl, their robotic creature, was perched in the passenger seat of the truck. Before pulling out of the parking lot, all seven team members decorated the windows of all three vehicles making up the caravan to Orlando. They were ready... and in great spirits!

... my beautiful talking palm tree...

... the pink belt ninja flamingo...

... the tree-hugging yeti...

... the snowbird lost inside the snowglobe...

... and Mr. Snowy Owl.

Compliments flew before and after their performance. Their costumes were spectacular, their skit original and outlandish. And the performance? Spot on. The best they had ever performed. All of a sudden, I really wanted them to go to worlds. And so the waiting began...

I wish I could tell you that their best effort earned them a place in the world competition. I wish I could tell you that they were thrilled with the results of the evening. But fifth place was not where they wanted to be, and there were a few tears. But they did their best. And while their best did not earn them the right to compete again, it did bring out the best in them. After the tears and the disappointment there was laughter... there were jokes... and there was sportsmanship. This group of young adults created something special together that may never come again... and the memories of this experience that they store in their hearts will eventually bring more to joy to their life than a trophy ever could.

April 02, 2009

off to "states"

Laura has worked so hard... and she is happy to do so when she is with her OM (Odyessy of the Mind) buddies. They have performed at regionals... and now they are off to state competition. The big time. It has been a lot of work... late nights... really late nights... especially when your day begins at 5:30am. But the trailer is packed,and we leave tomorrow... bright and early. I would love to stay home and sleep in... hide under the covers... but this is for her. My girl. The Talking Palm Tree. I hope the team does really well... really well. But maybe, just maybe not well enough to go on to the World competition. Surely I do not have the energy for that....