5 Minute Friday – Wonder

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It’s my first Five Minute Friday! People all over the world blogging on the same topic on the same day for just five minutes and linking up at Lisa Jo’s place. Today’s topic:Wonder.

Five Minute Friday

Wonder. Some days I can be full of wonder. I love the details inside a flower. I love to catch snowflakes with my tongue and make snow angels with my daughter. I love the taste of sugar cookies made from an OLD family recipe.

And some days, I just trudge along. Wishing I could see the wonder, but somehow everything seems obscured.

Life is more joyful for me when I see the wonder. I am going to ask God to open my eyes to the wonders around me. He created them just for us to enjoy. Can you imagine His joy when we take a few moments to appreciate all that He created for us?

Tiny eyelashes on a newborn.

A mom holding her little one for the first time.

A steady rain that sounds so soft and warm.

The intricacies and colors of a butterflies wings.

The way my daughter fits perfectly in my arms, no matter how old she gets.

The joy of making something beautiful, creating beauty as our God does.

 

STOP

 


White Lights Christmas Tree

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One of my favorite things to do is visit thrift stores, rummage sales and estate sales searching for treasures. My daughter loves it, too, even though she is only 6! We have found a sofa table with a mini hutch, fabulous chairs and ornate frames among so many other treasures.

A couple of weeks ago, we were at our local St. Vinny’s and we came across this amazing Christmas tree.

It is absolutely perfect for our enclosed porch. I stopped in my tracks when I saw it, and my daughter looked at me, then the tree and said, “Mom. We HAVE to get it.” For $7.50, how could we pass it up?

What are your favorite thrift store finds?


Table for Two

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I honestly can’t remember the last time my ex-husband and I ate dinner together at home at our table. So my daughter and I didn’t either; we sat in the living room. Partly because it was easy and partly because I really didn’t want us to sit at the table while he sat in the other room. It just didn’t feel good.

Unfortunately that habit stuck with us for a very long time. At my mom’s house we sat at the table some of the time, but once we got in our own place, we didn’t. I think it was partly that issue I had with our family feeling incomplete. No dad, no siblings. I always thought I would have a bunch of kids. After two miscarriages and a divorce, the table can feel pretty empty.

But I think we were missing out on a great time of togetherness. So, we started sitting at the table.

One of our beautiful vintage tablecloths.

I have a few pretty vintage tablecloths and even started lighting a candle sometimes. Celebrating that we are a family, even with only two. That doesn’t make our love and commitment to each other any less. It just means we have room for our family to grow, if that’s what God decides.

It’s taking my young one a bit of time to get used to having to sit at the table every night. But we are talking more and playing more while we do it. I want this to become something we do as many nights as possible for as long as we are under the same roof. A few minutes every day where we are together just focused on each other.

A reminder that we are a family. We are a team. A constant in a world of uncertainty. Maybe it’s just dinner. But I think it’s a great place to start.

Our current centerpiece. A great find from a thrift store a couple of weeks ago.


Gratitude

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There are a million things to be thankful for in this life. These are a few of my top picks.

A God who doesn’t give up.
That God pursues us and wants a personal relationship with us continues to amaze me.

A Daughter who makes every day an adventure.
It’s not always easy, but I wouldn’t trade being her mom for anything in the world. She is totally crazy and wonderful and silly and fun. I love her to pieces.

Our Home.
We have lived here for 6 months. It took about 4 days to feel completely at home here. It is totally a blessing from God.

His Continual Provision.
I watch Him meet our needs financially, emotionally, spiritually. I have watched Him surround us with people who care and I have seen Him walk with us daily.

My Sister.
I LOVE that we talk almost every day. And that we live close enough to see each other often. She is my rock.

The Wilderness.
I am finally grateful for the wilderness I have been through. God used it to draw me so close to Him and to teach me so much. I would go through all of the heartbreak again to get to this relationship I have with Him now.


Wilderness Redefined

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Growing up in church, I heard about “wilderness experiences” and I always thought of them as terrible, challenging hardships that people suffered through. Times when God was silent and people had to have faith on their own strength. I was so wrong.

My church has been teaching The Story of Hope in 2012. 50 major Bible stories and how they all point to Christ. We spent the first 8 months of the year going through the old testament and re-learning (and learning deeper than I ever have) about the Israelites and their incredible history, including their wilderness years.

A few months ago, a wonderful lady at church told me that THIS is my wilderness experience. Everything stopped as my brain saw it in a whole new light.

My wildnerness experience isn’t about God’s silence or distance. God is always with us. What happened to the Israelites in their wilderness? God provided. Daily. They were to take exactly what they needed to survive for one day. If they took more, it went bad before they could eat it. God was teaching them complete reliance on His mercy and love and compassion and care. He was teaching them how much He cares for His children and how ABLE He is to provide everything we need.

Now MY wilderness looks different. I am learning to walk with God daily. To begin each morning asking for what we need to live for Him today. Truly depending on Him to meet our needs. He provided manna in the wilderness for the Israelites and He does the same for us. I have watched Him provide again and again. I KNOW He is trustworthy. I KNOW He loves us. I KNOW I can rest in His mercy and grace.


Traditions Old & New – part 2

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I have always loved real Christmas trees. We had them for a while when I was growing up, but eventually got a fake one. For the last 8 years of my marriage, we lived in a 3rd floor walk-up apartment. We did not have a real tree!

Once we got to my mom’s house, I got real trees again. Last year, we were driving to a large tree farm when we happened upon the cutest little family tree farm. I spoke to the owners and found out that they had a long-time dream of having Christmas trees, so they planted a bunch of them in the acres behind their home.

It was so lovely! Sweetness and I spent plenty of time choosing the perfect tree for us and I even attempted to cut it down myself. I got about a third of the way through when some wonderful stranger sent her son-in-law over to help. He finished cutting it for me and I carried it out.

We can’t wait to go back there this year. We have already picked out where in our home the tree is going to sit. Its place of honor. (of course, my daughter has picked out 3 places, since she thinks we should get 3 trees!)

I love building these new traditions for our little family. I can’t wait to look back years from now and remember the stories of us dancing through the snow, finding our perfect tree.


Unshakeable Faith

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I just read an article by Marshall Shelley in Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal and was struck by several things. He is discussing how the loss of his children has affected his faith over many years. And I can’t help but reflect on how my faith has changed over the last 12 years.

Shelley says, “…innocent faith can trust God because it hasn’t seen the abyss; virtuous faith has known the terror and chooses to trust God.”

I started out with a very innocent faith. Nothing very bad happened in my childhood. We were healthy and safe, didn’t know any people who divorced. I knew one family that lost a child, but since I was a child myself, I didn’t understand the agony of those parents.

Then, 12 years ago, my dad died. He was a man of great faith. He lived out God’s command to be His hands and feet on this earth. And to watch him die young, was heartbreaking and confusing. Why in the world would God not want him here, continuing to make such a difference for His kingdom? Reaching out to the lost and hurting that others ignored?

Since my dad’s death, I have had 2 miscarriages and a crumbling marriage that eventually ended in divorce.

And I learned.

Being taken to your knees by this life brings you to a crossroads. You can let it harden your heart or you can turn to the One who can make beauty out of our ashes. The One who sees the whole picture and KNOWS why His plan included all these hard things. The One whose plan included sending his own son to die for us. The only One who can know us completely and love us unconditionally at the same time.

I see how my prayers have changed. I still pray for provision and protection and specific needs. But I also find myself praying for His will to be done. I used to fight against that. I wanted to change His will if it didn’t coincide with mine. Now I know He has plans so much greater and bigger than mine and I am so grateful for it. Some situations I just can’t even imagine what to pray for. In my humanity, I can’t possibly see a good outcome. I don’t see any options. But I don’t need to see any options, because I know the One who sees it all. So I go to my knees and bring my concerns to Him. And tell Him, Please, just do Your will. Please use this situation for your glory and our good, as You promised you would. Please use it to lead others to you.

Choosing faith isn’t easy. But it comes with great hope. Hope for our future on earth. Hope for our eternal future in heaven. Hope founded on the only One who is totally trustworthy and loving and good.

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

That is a promise we can put our full weight into.

If we let it, going through the valleys and storms of this life can do something amazing in us. It allows us to choose unshakeable faith.


Traditions Old & New, Part 1

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One of the hard things after my divorce was losing our traditions. The one thing that had remained even through the last years of our marriage was making sugar cookies together at Christmastime. These weren’t just any sugar cookies. Our recipe is from my ex-husband’s great-grandmother. The kind of recipe that was “a little of this, a little of that” and we spent many hours figuring out how to duplicate it.

Then we made it every year. And the first year after our marriage ended, I just couldn’t bring myself to make them. It was too sad. Then I was so sad that the tradition was lost. Sometimes it’s just confusing to feel it all at once!

So the next year, I decided my daughter and I would make the cookies. I want her to have these family traditions that came down through the generations. I want to tell her the stories of her dad and his cousins studying the recipe and us working hard together to figure it out. That’s part of her heritage and is so important in giving her strong roots.

It’s ok to leave some traditions behind. It’s also important to keep some to give the kiddos as much security as we can. This will be our fourth Christmas on our own and the first one in our Immeasurably More. I can hardly wait to get out our decorations. This place is going to be a Christmas wonderland! I’m talking lights, garland, nativities and probably lots of handmade things with glitter glue. 🙂



Immeasurably More

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Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21

When I became a single mom, my daughter and I moved in with my mom, who was gracious enough to let us stay with her as long as we needed to. But as a 40 year old mom, I really wanted us to have a place of our own. I worked and prayed, not knowing how I could afford it. I watched the rental listings and thought we would be ok in a small apartment. Since I work from home and have a lot of equipment, I knew it would be tight. I saw listings for apartment complexes that were too expensive, but they had playgrounds and I thought maybe there would be kids for my daughter to enjoy.

I decided to wait for God’s perfect timing. And I kept praying. I had my heart set on living in the town our church is in, since we are there several times a week. Then I finally started telling God we would go wherever he wanted, just please show me where. And He did.

Eventually the thought came to me, Wouldn’t it be cool if someone was renting out a guest house? It would be in a nice neighborhood, would be more homey than an apartment. Just as quickly as the thought came, I dismissed it. I figured if someone had enough money to OWN a guesthouse, they certainly didn’t need to rent it out.

Two weeks later,  I saw it. Right there in the apartment listings. Guesthouse for rent. I almost fell off my chair. I read the listing and just knew that was exactly where God wanted us to be. EXACTLY. I went to see it and knew immediately upon walking through the front door that this was supposed to be our new home. I hadn’t even made it past the cute little foyer. I just knew.

And God made it so. Within 3 days, I was signing the lease on our Immeasurably More. 2 bedrooms, finished basement (now a craft and play room), tons of storage for all of my business equipment. A lovely screened in porch to enjoy crisp fall mornings. 4 kids on the street around my daughter’s age. And I could afford it.

Our home is not where I planned it to be. We are still about 20 minutes from church. But we are also only 2 minutes from a wonderful school, 2 minutes from an awesome park, 3 minutes from my mom, on a quiet court with a quick walk down the street to friends.

Waiting for God’s timing can be so hard. I am often tempted to rely on my own plans and timing. Then I look around. And remember what God can do.

Immeasurably More than I could ask or imagine.

Now THAT is worth waiting for.