How to Give Thanks Throughout This One Life

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:15 (NLT)

It may be that Paul was out of words at the time he wrote this line in his letter to friends in Corinth. I can almost imagine his fingers splayed across his concerned forehead when he finally gave in to ‘indescribable’. But it didn’t stop him from giving thanks.

I never want to stop, either.

I want to thank Him for settling my soul when wildfires rage so close it’s hard to breath.

I want to thank Him for offering me a life that’s blessed here and a life that’s eternal up there.

I want to thank Him for holding my heart when it’s split open and offering me the chance to glorify Him even in that moment.

I want to thank Him for being able to see the tired fall finally get to slumber and being able to recognize the smell of the coming winter in the air.

I want to thank Him for sticky chairs, scattered buttons, and mountains of laundry because it’s living proof my greatest wish came true. That there are kids tucked into quilts, snug and warm under this old farm roof.

I want to thank Him for love that never fails from a husband who sometimes does, but who reaches across bedsheets to ask forgiveness and cradles me close until we both fall asleep.

I want to thank Him for the gift of knowing how to hold the hand of three humans whose fingers are so small they barely cover my fingernail.

I want to thank Him for the foggy framed memory of walking up to a new born baby in a hospital bassinet and being able to study the face of my new son, given as a gift from another Mama leaving the hospital without him.

I want to thank Him for seeing someone worth giving four of His unique creations to to raise. That He trusts me that much, because, Lord knows, I’ve done nothing to deserve them.

I want to thank Him for offering an awkward girl a place of belonging.

I want to thank Him for helping me find my voice in a noisy world where I can finally proclaim as boldly as Oswald Chambers did when he wrote, “In all the world, my God, there is none but Thee, there is none but Thee.” and feel it in my bones.

I want to thank Him for His words in red that call me ‘blessed’ and ‘redeemed’, that name me ‘daughter’ and ‘believer’.

Thankfullness, Uncategorized

How to Move From Grief to Gratitude

I’ve been working on a few things lately, and part of the course work for some of it takes place today. I’m eager to share with you, my reader, but it’s going to have to come at a later time. What I want to share with you now, is how I got here. How I’m able to move from a broken heart, to a grateful heart. How I see Christ blessing all of my bruising, and how I’m actually grateful to have a few bruises because it shows our journey together. October was, and still is, my chosen month for a wedding. Ben and I almost had an outdoor ceremony, but Chicago weather can be skittish, and I’m not much of a risk taker, so we went with a traditional church venue. I still love spending our anniversary at the highlight of changing leaves. October is also the month the high-school Ben and I both attended holds its yearly alumni gatherings. Mine was fantastic this year, and I’m waving to those of you who were there. And, October is my youngest sons birthday. He’s one incredible miracle. All of these things make me smile. All of them bring me great joy. October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I’ve been hyper alert to this since my own Mama went through the crushing disease at the age of 44. Since then my younger sister, three cousins, and now myself, have all gone through the ugly-beautiful remaking of our physical bodies so that this disease would hopefully not destroy us. Sadly, my mama and one cousin are now resting in the Lord.

After being overtly aware of all the pink ribbons for breast cancer, I’m also, now, owner of pink & blue wristbands. The kind that flex and twist. The kind that people wear in the shower and pass out profusely to anyone willing to grab one. The pink and blue ribbon stands for Infertility, Infant loss, and Miscarriage. My pile of these added up to too many for several years.

October is host to heavy material for me. But, all of it humbles me. All of it communicates to me to cancel out carelessness, because I commune with a gracious God. On my tired days, sure, the remembrances float with an irregular heartbeat and I feel the presence of panic. But on most days, when light and color filter through the morning trees, when I can only whisper in the company of God my Father because I feel Him so close, when the music of my soul lets me sit quiet with all of this, I find myself incredibly grateful.

And November rolls in and the last leaves fall from the trees and I’m falling back into the habit of journaling all I am thankful for each day. This is not a trick. This is a plan with purpose. Slowing enough through a racing day to jot down a few things that I know are gifts from Him. Stripping away distractions to digest words of the Holy Word, so that I gain ground on October’s pain points. It’s been a tradition for the kids and I to read scripture verses of thanksgiving and jot down what we’re grateful for each day throughout the month of November until we reach the traditional American Thanksgiving Day. Habits begin young, and I can’t miss this opportunity to show them how to shift. I want them to notice how Jesus gave thanks before He broke the bread, before He let them break His body. I want them to notice how He gave thanks before He served over 5,000 hungry people with only 5 loaves and 2 fish. I want them to notice when He gives thanks to God for hearing him, and then calls forth dead Lazarus from the tomb. I want them to hear the buzz of people talking about those who see miracles because they choose to give thanks in all things. It is impossible to stay distanced from God when you are accustomed to thanking Him. Our very pulse becomes dependent on our gratitude because it grows our dependence on the One who loves us most.

Why is it we seem to want explanations for the bad things, but do we ever want to know why the good things happen? “Why Lord have you taken my son from me? Why, Lord, do I have to go through breast cancer. I’m still raising my kids. Couldn’t this wait? Why me, in the first place?”

Or, “Why Lord, You gave me back two more sons. You doubled my portion. Even after I knew there would be no more babies, you gave me more. Why? You kept my one and only daughter alive even when she stood against impossible odds like her twin brother. You healed my body from a disease that should have consumed it. You have been the Navigator in our marriage, keeping us close, keeping us growing together and growing towards you. Although these storms for grief could have snapped the supporting lines of our covenant, you didn’t allow that to happen. Am I really worth all of this? And so, the shifting happens. This is all of James 4:8, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” The wonder of who God is and how intensely He orchestrates the cosmos, changes the seasons, and provides a cure for genetic cancer when there used to be none, is worth noting.

Oswald Chambers writes, “When a truth of God is brought home to your soul, never allow it to pass without acting on it internally in your will. Record it with ink and with blood – work it into your life. The weakest saint who transacts business with Jesus Christ is liberated the second he acts and God’s almighty power is available on his Behalf.”

Friend, when you see the goodness of God, write. it. down. Keep on going until you’ve rewired the path of wailing in your brain. Give thanks the moment the bantering bully of discontent and poisonous prose begin to swell along the cortex of your mind. Don’t allow it to filter in deep. Fight back, friend. Realign the rhythm of how you worship and see a God who works miracles. This is how we go from grief to gratitude. This is the way to see blessings through pain.

November opens with a falling of first snow here, and the dark hours last longer that the light ones. We’ve blown out the water lines to the garden and the goat pasture, and we’ve clipped the last of the leaves off the pumpkin vines. The tea kettle is on, and the journal is out. It’s time, friend, to practice praise. Join me? What are you thankful for in this moment?

Family, Judah's Journey, Love of my Savior, Thankfullness, Uncategorized

When the Fruit of Faithfulness Guides

Very deliberately, I believe, the food pantry we were volunteering at was slow that morning. A few customers came and went uneventfully, and there were more staff than was necessary, which was unusual, so I stepped out the back door and hid behind my car where no one could hear or see my tremor, and I called the Doctor’s office. “Come on in”, they said. So I made a quick request to leave early, buckled my 2 kids into car seats and headed north.

I circled the golden arch drive-through and heard myself ask for two kids meals. I kept driving, straight to my mother-in-laws where I dropped the kids off with a forced laugh about my crazy life and blindly waved good-bye. Now alone, my breathing changed. I could feel panic pushing against my chest and I blinked dry-eyes and prayed, “Good Lord, please….please let this be ok….”.

I was 23 weeks pregnant with a son.

The nurse I had talked to on the phone met me in the lobby and guided me to an empty room where I undressed. The Doctor was at ease and wanted to pat me in reassurance, but on impulse decided to check me, and that’s when the unraveling picked up pace. My cervix was open. His eyes went round and he tumbled off his chair and fast-paced it out the door only to return within a few short minutes.

His words then came out in boldface, “I’m sorry, but your probably going to lose your baby today.”

The IV medications began to course through my blood. The ambulance ride bore down the highway. The contractions showed up early and I kept my legs together and gripped my phone in my hand in order to keep my following husband updated.

The next 12 hours are drug-induced and quite blurry. Labor commenced and in the still, dark night, we were given 2 choices. When the Doctor stopped talking and left the room, Ben’s head leaned over the bed rail and we prayed. We prayed for guidance from the Holy Spirit, and we made a decision. One we’ve never regretted.

Had I not been faithful to the living push of the Holy Spirit throughout that day, I’m certain the end would have been different.

Faithfulness is a fruit so pure it can appear almost opaque. Like something light and frilly and easy to toss around. But that day, instead of admiring it’s loveliness while fanning myself with my self-righteousness, I saw how the Holy Spirit took hold of that faithfulness with both hands and stretched it down tight on both sides of me like guard rails. And I hung on for, not just my life, but for the life of my son as well. Motherhood can do that to you. And Fatherhood can too, because He did that day. And He probably does it so often that if we saw it all, we would understand how incredibly great His power really is. We might realize the magnitude of the roller coaster that races at terrifying speeds. We might see declines that would take us to spaces so deep we would curl up and give up. We would probably understand better how rails may exist in shaky territory, but ultimately lead us out too. Back to the slow. To the focus of a well beaten path that leads to Him, and to home.

Susan Schaeffer Macaulay writes, “We are not victims of despair, darkness, or the evil in ourselves or the world. There is righteousness, goodness, holiness, fairness, wholeness. This is an objective truth, the very substance of the infinite God who is indeed there and who has not been silent. And so we, the finite, can know. We don’t have to search within our own selves to find the way. There is relief. We are sheep; we have been given a shepherd. We who sit in darkness have been given a great light.”  

We belong to a King who commands control by simply asking for our faithfulness. The guard rails are there. The path is laid out. Bumps will shake us. There will be places of complete blackout, time that is unlit, and not everyone in your story will choose to stay in your story. But let me say this while ascending out of a dark dusk…Things can happen in a moment of faith.  

Diseases get healed.

Marriages soften or shift.

Tenderness is smoothed over loss like a soothing balm.

Insubordination backs down.

Opportunity rises.

Words that weren’t there before suddenly find their purpose.

Stories turn chapters and our identity, our loneliness, our insufficient journey wakes up to rails laid down. Faithfulness.

What if you followed a commanding God simply out of obedience, because your faithfulness was locked into His salvation? Remember friend, out of all creation, you are His choice possession. He locked eyes with you the moment you drew your first breath, and He embraced the chance to be your Savior. And He doesn’t build rails that run out or dead end. No. He takes you all the way home.

James 1:2-4 (NLT), “Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.”

In pure faithfulness,

~kathy b

Macaulay, Susan Schaeffer, 1984. “For The Children’s Sake”. Crossway Books. pg.43.

Love of my Savior, Thankfullness, Uncategorized

The Fall Season and Falling in Love

Sometimes skies are more gray than blue. Sometimes night-time comes so fast, you might forget to notice today. Most likely you’ll be stuck inside staring at walls, staring at tiles, staring at the dirty water running over sticky dishes and you’ll lose another day on that old wall calendar.



But…..what if we tried not to?

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Not to miss the colors, the walks, the sticky mess of candy apples? What if the sky reminded us to stop the crazy cycle of staring at drywall and instead stare at the beauty of written words and breathed out creation? What if, instead of noticing the knot of weariness we noticed the tangled tree swing and the tangle of shoe laces at the bottom of the stairs? What if we actually took that long fall walk and stalked the leaves and their changing. Ran our hands through the kids messy hair and touched the scratch of palest birch bark? What if tomorrow’s darkened morning was the dawn of your new daily search of God’s gracious words? What if He INTENDED for you to stop the hustle of the schedule to, instead, bury a few minutes into the love letter He wrote for YOU?! What if this fall turns into your own falling-in-love story?

To walk is to traverse. To advance by steps. King David knew this, but he also knew that walking might be best with a stick, a rod. After all, he wrote and sang about the protection of that staff, especially, and maybe most importantly, when walking through those darkening valleys. I don’t know about you, but something inside me admits to a gnawing fear of what might lie ahead. Turns out, I don’t know the terrain as well as I thought. But the beauty of the season isn’t worth hiding from either. So I choose to relinquish fear, and walk with the gentle Shepherd anyway. And we’ll throw our heads back and laugh at the day and He’ll ask me out again, because He loves me so deeply.


Isaiah saw the morning dawn. He walked with his shepherd, who, it turns out, was a giant warrior too. Isaiah walked himself into a message. He peeled open his own letter of hope. Hope for a busted up group of people who were stuck in their own walls. Stuck in their own beige crumple of despair. He read and talked about “…..a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory. The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.” (Isa 9:2). Isaiah saw the sun break the horizon. He saw a king, standing tall and broad, his wide stance, unflinching. A lantern dangling from His walking stick and no one can deny the battle wounds in the palms of His hands. And right then, Isaiah writes about those people. Those war ravaged people, throwing up a hooray‼ “They will rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest.” (Isa 9:3b).


I pick pumpkins with the kids and harvest our own tiny potatoes and I hear the squeals and cries of delight and their season is towering in just a few short hours. The husband blows crispy leaves and they float above and around us and the magic of the occasion isn’t lost on me. I know this is all part of that love letter. Part of that quest to draw me in deeper. To open my eyes to the change and know there is glory at the end of this road.

We each have this love letter. I’m finding that mine seem to be short and sweet on the easy days, but when conditions get rocky, Jesus stacks mine up. Stacks to cushion the bumps, the boulders, the sharp pains. He piles love letters around tough phone calls, heartbreaking headlines, and my teetering self-worth.

“As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.” (Gen. 8:22). And as long as you and I have breath in our bodies there will be God’s letters of love to encourage us, to hold us, to value us, to sweep us off our feet. And in this beautiful season of apple picking, leaf piling, and pumpkin pie, may there also be a love story. Yours! Might you open that autumn scented letter of scripture and feel Him wrap you in tenderness.

Enjoy this season, friend. He’s MAD about you‼
Walking in love,
~kathy b

Hope, Thankfullness

How To Know The Sky Like A Songbird

The eve of Thanksgiving and the temperatures ride waves in the high 40’s. The sky woke with a movie like sunrise and the colors of the dawn married the veiled clouds of the night and I hardly noticed the frost on the windshield. It’s unusual to hear the songbirds in November, but the tip top of the maples and hemlocks held this high fluted chorus. Wikipedia calls it their “vocal organ”. Their diverse and elaborate song. I hear them, and it’s no wonder to me. I don’t know calls well enough to know who was singing, but I heard their joy sung out loud and all I could do was look up and breath in. They spatter dark against the gray sky, wings spread and then folded in again as they dance tree to tree and limb to limb. They’re there, all gathered as family and singing and it’s a delight I want to know.   
 I love the words of Job, crippled with pain, yet speaking tall, “Just ask the animals, and they will teach you. Ask the birds of the sky, and they will tell you….For the life of every living thing is in his (The Lord’s) hand, and the breath of every human being.” Job 12:7 & 10. Breath. Ah. The Hebrew people have but one word, ruwach (roo’-akh). It includes wind, breath, mind, spirit. And those birds in the sky are up there singing with the wind, pushing breath out with intentional song. Their minds on the course of gladness and their spirits, preserved, created by God! And it’s clear to me what they’re doing at this late season, crowding up close to the clouded sky, they’re singing their Thanksgiving to the Designer of all things now living.  

 It seems so fitting to me. This month long giving-thanks theme that the kids and I have routinely set our thoughts on. But those birds, they seem to take it one step further. One flight closer. And although our Thanks – giving tree dangles with the long list of gratitude, I realize my breathing is maybe a bit shallow. Maybe a bit too short. Twenty-six days of hanging paper leaves on a couple of broken branches hardly seems like a full breath. A full ruwach.  

 It’s been nice. The fall season has been mild and, maybe, so is my life. No big trauma, no insurmountables, no impossible knots to unravel. And if there’s all these no’s, did I forget to focus on the ‘yes’?  The yes of flight and soaring and even song singing? Yeah, singing. Because when you’re singing, isn’t that one of the few times in life we actually breath the deepest? When our diaphragms demand we pull air more deeply into the body until we feel grounded right in the belly. When you expand until you can’t expand anymore and you suck air in through your nose so your vocal cords don’t dry out and you find yourself choking on nothing at all?  

  Ah. It’s sinking in. The singing that the songbird knows and eagerly participates in involves this deep breathing. This deep ruwach. Deep wind. Deep breath. Deep mind. Deep spirit. And she takes that singing straight to the sky! She finds the thinner air to be the finer line, unbroken, uninhibited from being closer to her Maker. She’s risen above the world of turkey and stuffing, of black Fridays and black highways and she’s there finding joy in the simpler things. Simply breathing the space between her and God and it all comes tumbling out in song. Yeah, I need some of that!

 God says, “I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine.” Psalms 50:11 NLT. He also said, “Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your Heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?” Matthew 6:26 NLT. So, friend, if the birds, so watched over and cared for, are up there, throats outstretched, throwing their vibrato into sound waves of Thanksgiving, shouldn’t we be doing the same? 

 So we tape it to the wall over here and we’re branding it to memory, “Sing out your thanks to the Lord; sing praises to our God with a harp. He covers the heavens with clouds, provides rain for the earth, and makes the grass grow in mountain pastures. He gives food to the wild animals and feeds the young ravens when they cry. He takes no pleasure in the strength of a horse or in human might. No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Psalms 147:7-11 NLT. Friend, we can breath the song of thanksgiving because He offers hope and love beyond whatever feels normal or deserved. So, go on, point your face to the sky and sing out your love song. And breath. Ruwach.
And in everything, give thanks.

~in pure song,

kathy b

Gifts & Talents, Giving, Parenting, Thankfullness

Growing up with Linda

In four weeks a group of old friends will gather on a campus full of highschoolers and reminisce about thier own styles and cliques and adventures full of poor judgement.  They’ll remind each other of hours spent working for free to cover a broken rule, of love lost and found, and they’ll talk about the craziness of 50 years gone by.  They’ll pass their phones around showing off pictures of kids and grandkids and that camper they always wanted.  They also decided to take some time and talk about those who are no longer among them.  Those who have passed away.   One of those is my mom.  Here is the tribute I wrote to be read at that gathering.  I love that they chose to not forget fellow classmates and honored that they asked me to describe what is was like growing up with Linda as my mom.  Here is my, somewhat tearful, walk down memory lane.


Encapsulating the life of your Mom is maybe one of the more difficult things. Mapping out a timechart of motherhood roles and duties requires a scroll of paper across the kitchen floor because the kids have full bellies and safe play and always, always a shoulder to lean into whenever it’s needed and how do you chart that? Growing up with Linda as a Mom was busy and full and secure because she literally took care of everything! Linda was an extrovert but absolutely wanted, needed, to stay home with her kids. So she opened a daycare in our home and filled it with kids and made friends with other Mama’s who needed her multi-tasking, her practicality, and her Christian boldness to help raise their offspring. For roughly 13 years she took care of multiple kids alongside her own 4. At times there were between 15 and 20 little beings pounding up and down the stairs, hanging from trees, splashing in the pool, and snacking on graham crackers with left-over cake frosting smothered on them. She embodied the “old” woman who lived in a shoe and the chaos fueled her. And while the mundane of scrubbing dirty floors and dirty dishes might literally scrub out the very creativity of a God-designed soul, she battled that with a small business on the side. Word got out that Linda made wedding cakes, and so, blushing couples sat side-by-side on our brown patterned couch and talked colors, styles, and dates and there are many memories of helping Mom transport multi-tiered cakes to church after church, the upside, for us, of course, was the start of a new tradition. Leftover wedding cake frosting smeared on graham crackers! Mom and Dad were conservative Seventh day Adventists which meant there was no caffeine, no meat, no alcohol, and no rock-n-roll. Instead, there was church and school involvement. Everything from teaching/leading Sabbath School and heading a group in a potluck rotation to attending music programs and gymnastics shows for all four kids, and eventually starting up a preschool program at Hinsdale Junior Academy. Linda was an early bird, a roadrunner, for the rate of speed at which she could accomplish things was amazing. She started every day ahead of her kids, but that also meant bedtimes were early because mama was tired and she needed to be done at the end of the day.
 Our home was always full of people. If the 6 of us was not enough, we often had people in various transitional places in theirs lives staying for days or weeks, or, occasionally, months. Every Sabbath a special lunch was prepared and it was not an unusual site to have invited guests over for Sabbath lunch. Holidays were the same. If we did not have family around to share a loaded Thanksgiving table with, then she would seek out a single person or two from the church or school and add another place-setting. Hospitality was defined for me by my Mom, and she seemed to have a soft spot for single mothers, because my memory lists quite a few that found a warm smile, a heart that didn’t judge, and a flexible drop-off and pick-up place to bring their kids. The Christian atmosphere was just a bonus.

 Linda was a high-energy, bossy, woman, but she was equally kind, gentle, and nurturing and how you pour all of that into a 5’2″ woman is a wonder to me, but that is how God designed her.

 Her “working” life after kids was that of her in-home daycare until 1988 when she started a preschool program at Hinsdale Junior Academy. It was into her second year there that she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 44. She took that on like everything else, with fury. She scheduled herself, her kids, and her job around her single mastectomy surgery, her chemotherapy, and her radiation treatments. She never lost her hair that time. I think she was too stubborn and bossy, even the hair follicles learned who they were dealing with. She chose no reconstruction, but instead bore those scars as any good soldier would. You do what you have to do to survive so you can take care of your kids. Because that was her only prayer, “Lord, please let me finish raising my kids.” And she did.

 From the school she left and went on to run a daycare center in an elite business district in a western suburb of Chicago, eventually starting a private school within its walls. When she reached a point where she could no longer give her whole heart to those kids and their families, she switched careers and worked for a financial investment group. When the main broker that she worked for went to start his own company she left and went to work for a Honda dealership close to home, where she retired from when her own mother got sick with cancer. 

  She left and went to FL and stayed with her mom until her death in March of 2005. Struggling with where to stay and live from there, she and Alan, who had retired from Hinsdale Hospital, sent prayers heavenward for direction, never dreaming that a few weeks later they would get an anxious call from a hospital in Grand Rapids, MI where their second daughter, (me) had just given birth to micro-premie twins at only 24 wks gestation. She shed tears and packed her bags and sat by my side for all of the fours months required. This is where she also buried a grandson. The loss of her mother, who was one of her closest friends, and her almost 2 month old baby grandson whom she had held only once, finally took some of the wind out of her sails. Once her daughter and granddaughter were safely home, she and Alan moved down to Nashville, TN to live near her oldest daughter, Diana. Life grew quieter there.

 Linda was a ‘busy-body’, and although she had slowed some, true “retirement” nearly drove her crazy, so she got involved in a free medical clinic for the poor and put her efforts into running the office there. But in January of 2008, the same day grandchild number 7 was born, she received an early morning call from her doctor who told her that the weakness in her left hand and the drooping of the left side of her smile was because of an inoperable brain tumor. For the next two and a half years she took the recommended treatments until finally there was nothing else and the tumor was growing so fast she declined every day. Her family gathered quickly and on June 2, 2010, after a peaceful five day coma, her heart stopped, and she rested quietly. It was a strange quiet for a woman born with a fire burning in her. Linda was 64 years old.

 I miss that Mama every day. I miss how she would stop her entire world if you called her and needed her. “Ok, honey, what can I do to help? Do you need me to come?”

 Always. Every time.


Listen, Thankfullness

For When I’m Cold

Four letters.  One number.  That’s the date today.  June 1.

Two more numbers.  60.  That’s the temperature outside.

I pull on socks and a sweatshirt.  It’s 60, but clouds hang low, moisture rises high, and mud oozes under my feet.  It’s cold.

And that’s when I have to be honest with myself.  I am cold deep down.  Far deeper than weather can reach.

I’m cold to the fact that our homeschooling year should be wrapping up.  That my Sabbath School lesson plan should be ready.  The weeds in the garden should be pulled on a daily basis.  The floors should absolutely be vacuumed.  The ironing should not be piled quite so high.   The kids should be writing thank you cards to Grandma who brings gifts.  Always.  I should have a definitive list made out by now for the Father’s day service.  I should take the rest of the post-garage sale stuff to the drop off-center.  And I could go on, but quite frankly, I’m too cold to all of it.

How, when you feel like you’re reading all the right books, when you’ve given of yourself more than usual, do you turn the page for the next calendar month and find yourself so….cold?

A child’s fears in the night have kept me from full rest, but with that, comes the viewing of that dawn’s first light.  Really.  It’s the blackish blue of morning, and it’s beautiful.  Restful.  The birdsong follows softly on the light, and I am so still, I feel completely alone.  I breathe deep.

“Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation.”  Psalm 68:19

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There it is.  The warmth begins.  The light dawns brighter.  Silly me.  Carrying around all this burden.  It’s a daily thing for Him.  And if He’s already got it, I should be still and be thankful.  I bow my head in gratitude and humiliation.  Let’s be honest.  I have nothing to give if I have not my Savior.  The world will harbor me in cold and line up the pointed fingers of should. But I am called blessed, and my God has already lifted the yoke, and warm hours are coming.

It’s true.  The Hebrew word for “daily” is yowm.  It’s from an unused root word meaning “to be hot”.  I’m laughing.  Me.  So cold in this northern part of Michigan, and so cold in the northern part of my head!!  Yowm.  The literal term meaning the warm hours.  Sunrise to sunset.  Daily!

I sober only for a moment as I watch Him carry that cross for me yet again.  He does it.  Daily.  He does it because He thinks that much of me.  Yes.  He’s that kind of guy.  He’s that kind of God.

“…the God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people.  Blessed be God.”  Psalm 68:35

In pure search,



Thankfullness, Uncategorized

Black Smudge

I’m washing black smudges off the bathroom wall.  Smudges made wildly searching for the light switch.  Little hands reaching and moving, touching and learning, and, yes, causing my shoulders to heave a great sigh right about now.  I find more smudges on cabinets, doors, and more walls and I have to ask myself, do they ever actually bathe?  Well, I’m their Mama, I know they do.  So then why all the smudges and all the time?

Why is it always the dirt I notice?  Why is it the harder work that makes me groan and flex my forearms and hands, letting the metacarpals physically take the brunt of my exhaustion and irritation shared only with my brows furrowed down.  I think about this and my mind rehearses the Kindergarten lesson study I’ve been reading to my five-year old.

It’s titled “A Special Supper”, and, yes, it’s the powerful story of Jesus and the twelve sharing that last meal together in an upper room.  A moment so private there was not even a servant to fill corner space or overhear conversation or, for that matter, to wash the dust off their feet.  A common Judaean custom.  A time when walking was the only mode of transportation, and a region of hard packed earth being the only thing trodden upon.

I sigh and move towards the kitchen door and study the deep tire tracks circling through mud from visitors over for our own celebration.  My left pinky finger hits the ‘A’ on the keyboard and I wince with the new slice of old skin slit open from the fall outside while cleaning up.  Our own dirt pressed and molded to form deep gorges of filthy water, now thinly sheeted over with the cold wind whipping.  Not a single shoe has been allowed up the stairs from the basement, because I can’t look at one more muddy print on the once clean floor.  I still, remembering I’ve been the one on hands and knees mopping those dirt patches, wearing yellow rubber gloves, and smelling the hot clean washing over dusty old.

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These knees bent just two weeks before on the hard basement floor of the church going over the Last Supper with a small group of kids.  With fabric wrapped around my waist and a table set with grape juice and unleavened bread, I retold the story of Jesus, bent on His own knees cleaning the dust and dirt, not off the floor, but off the feet of those He loved life brothers.  His heart troubled that still, after three years of walking and talking, healing and praying, they still did not get it!  This journey of teaching them love, forgiveness, compassion, and, yes, the act of serving.  So without a word, he wraps linen around his own waist, fills clean water in a bowl, and bows low.

Peter is first.  His view of Holy so humbled it shook his core.  Toes curled under, feet pulled back, eyes grown round, he refuses.  “Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet”  (John 13:8).  The Greek form is a double negative noun, ou me’.  Never, certainly not, not at all, by no means!!  Each negative is a pounding point!  In. no. way. is. He. washing. my. feet!   This is his Lord and this is making him uncomfortable!  He would rather hide his dirt than dip in the Lord’s bowl of grace and mercy.  It’s true. 

If I want the cleansing, I first have to dip toes in the gift offered.  And it’s not ever going to be this big party planned out, but rather a moment of the unexpected.  The timing will be wrong, or so the scum of my life will shout, but He’s already on His knees waiting to wash out the dark smudges.  There is no ‘getting ready’.  There is only the seat at the table, with water bowl on the ground. 

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Such a simple picture, but it offers the freshest beginning.

My left hand curls in, small finger wrapped in a bandage, and I remind myself that it’s also more than a once-a-week scrubbing, but rather a fresh cleanse every moment.  Like breathing in and out.  The God of new creations doesn’t encourage storing up dirt, only sitting in a posture of prayer. It’s this coming to him again and again, receiving the only water pure enough to wash out the lie of self-saving, self-purifying.

As hymn writer, John Newton said, “If there’s two things I do know, it is that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior”. 

In purest water,



How I Give Thanks

We are stepping off of, what feels like, a summer train gone crazy.  The family and I are just beginning the recuperation of four weeks spent with family and friends who span nine generations and six states.  And I want to take a moment to give thanks for all, because we are blessed beyond measure to be a part of who they are.

When the Husband and I stood together in a mum filled church with generations of souls seated in pews on both sides of the aisle, we first began to see what a “blended” family might look like.  Now, fourteen plus years later, we still move, arm-in-arm, through the maze of them.   Hearing stories, sharing food and kin alike, and meeting faces for the first time that belong to us.

The morning is dark with storm clouds mastering the skies and it causes my mind and body to slow.  So with rain washing the dirt, thunder commanding control, and a show of pure light dancing, I tap out thanks for all that has been.  And maybe that should be my first thanks, the water that makes all things new.  Life giving water to a parched earth.

I listen to the sounds of young voices playing in an imaginary world known only to cousins, and I am thankful.

I smell the aroma of blackberries and sugar boiling into jam, and I am thankful.

I touch the tiny form of a new niece with soft skin and small cries, and I am thankful.

I sleep on a bed belonging to friends known so long we share enough history to be called family.  Who willingly sleep in the basement so we can share morning light together, and I am thankful.

I curl into a ball in an overstuffed chair touching knees and stories with a girlfriend who has traveled half way across the country to knit our lives together in a twenty-four hour period, because sometimes that’s all the time we’ve got, and I open my soul wide, knowing time ticks and I don’t know when we’ll meet again, but I am so thankful for the NOW.

I listen to stories of an Aunt’s adoption, and how she has adopted, and I tuck them away in my heart, knowing I may need them some day, and I am thankful.

I watch Husband and two brother-in-laws work in the barn, scrubbing away years of dirt from old barn possibilities to shape something ragged into something beautiful, and I am thankful.

I feel the eyes of four small souls as I read them the real story of Esther the Queen from the true Word, their only sounds an occasional gasp connected to raised eyebrows and their posture on the edge of their seats, because what little girl doesn’t dream of being Queen, and I am thankful.

I let my fingers splay across the sky as I reach for the clothes line now needed to dry sheets, towels, and clothes from a family of four, and I am thankful even though the dryer is broken and there are nine of the twenty-six people already here for family events, because I have a husband who runs for clothes line, and a brother-in-law willing to string it between trees, and my work doesn’t have to stop, it just has to change direction, and I am thankful.

I taste the sweet chocolate topped peanut butter cookie and catch the eye of Husband’s ninety-seven year old grandmother, who I call my own, and who can still cook, bake, and travel five hours to spend the week with us, and I am thankful.

I stand beside my Dad, now alone, in a warehouse filled to the ceiling with old books and we talk history, both of us caressing the worn bindings, and I am thankful.

My fingers trace the fabric of our daughters first outfit and I whisper the story of her micro beginning to those whom we’ve just met, a story not told in a long time, and tears threaten, but courage forces its way through, and they are supportive, and I am so thankful.

And when a little red flashlight shines in my eyes in the middle of the night, I am thankful, because a small boy needs to be close to his Mama and Daddy for a bit longer.  Something that will disappear all too soon.

All this and so much more, and I find myself purely thankful.