Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sister Love

I've had a rough week. Even in a place I have created to plant and water my gratefulness out loud I know it's necessary for me to pull a few weeds from time to time. This was a week of weeding and pruning without too many blossoms left to fill my heart vase. My older sister Rochelle is a beautiful flower left standing in my garden. She is always there. She is sister love.

Today I received a package in the mail. It was a box with three new Ann Taylor v-neck shirts in perfect "Monica" colors and a sweater. Gifts from a sister who is always caring for me and giving. Over the last year she has filled so many spaces of need for our family. When school started last year she bought Delaney school clothes. She literally made Christmas for our family by sending gifts for each of us as well as Christmas dinner. Her gift to me was a beautiful set of Italian creamware dishes and flatware. Why? Because the night after I had Danica she stayed by my side while I thrashed in my bed sweating and screaming and talking out of my head. One of the crazy things I said was I wanted new dishes. (The funny thing is I really did!) Her family sacrificed for months to send money to us to keep our home and eat while I was sick and then recovering. This wasn't extra money they had, it was from giving up things they needed or wanted so we could make it through. This is sister love.

The gift today meant so much more than me having a couple new shirts to wear. It was the perfect timing. It reminded me that my sister is my lifelong friend. No matter what I need physically or emotionally she will always be there. We come from the same place and although so very different in many ways we are finding each day that we are more alike than not. More than anyone else we know the rhythms of each other's lives. We know what we are making for dinner, what our kids are thinking and saying each day, if we have a headache or cramps and what God is teaching us in the midst of all mundane. We remind one another that what we do each day really does matter and being faithful in the small things is a very real calling with eternal reward. We laugh and cry and complain and praise. We allow one another to talk into the wind when necessary and never judge. This is sister love.

I picture us someday, God willing, sitting at a table drinking tea with gray hair and wrinkled hands. There will be no catching up to do. We will know one another in and out. We will know the joy and the pain of this life. We will know amazing blessing and yes, even tragedy. We will see our God so much clearer than today, not faraway from seeing Him face to face. We will know sister love.

Thank You for my sister. Thank you for the gift of her friendship and love. Please bless and keep her tonight (and help her son Avery sleep in his room all by himself with no fuss so she can sleep in her own bed and spend time with her husband).

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mia Jane

My sweet niece Mia Jane turned 3 years old on Sunday. We moved to Maryland when she was only 3 months old, and I am so blessed to have spent most of her life living just a few miles away from her. I made a scrapbook for her birthday, and I felt sad to give it away because it contained so many special memories of her precious life. I decided to make a montage of the photos set to a song that reminds me of her so I would have them as well. I love you Mia!

A movement away

Amazing how a single choice
alters my every option
How one momentary action
sets all else in motion
My own thought has changed the life
of every other person
And all that I am certain of
becomes a certain question

Relative to relationships
life is never lonely
Everything revolves around
the trust of wise decisions
When one move is made in haste
all will feel the pain
I stub my toe
you take the blow
and the world nurses the bruise

Selfishness perceives loneliness
the heart cannot protect
One who loves and one who hates
all can feel the wind
of change and choice
all are at the mercy of the others
Move and sing carefully, my dear,
Fragile lives and destinies
are only a movement away from change

Most of you know I love poetry and read it daily in some form or another. I don't really write it anymore which is a little weird since I used to write a lot, but I think it takes a discipline I no longer possess. Or maybe I am just a little jaded in some way I wasn't in my younger years. This poem is another from an old Asbury Theological Seminary blog, and they never give credit to the author. I had bookmarked it awhile ago and lying in bed last night I was thinking of it again, and so I looked for it this morning.

I was watching my husband closely the last few months. I have listened to the changes in his own heart and life. I see a peace and a contentment with our life that I often prayed he would find. I see no grumbling with the day to day work, yes even drudgery, that makes up a real life. I see him delight in his children and sacrifice to provide and still make time for them and for me, often with no time for himself at all.

There was a period in our lives several years ago when our family was just a movement away from falling apart. I had lost my way and commitment to our marriage, and it was my husband who found forgiveness and grace and moved to save our love and the possibility of what we now share. Not a day goes by that I don't think about how it could have been. Not a day goes by I don't fall on my knees in gratefulness for God intervening and changing both of our hearts and lives.

Last night as I snuggled with Dan I told him again how thankful I am for him. I told him how blessed I am by his response to our daily life. As I drifted off to sleep I thought about how close we were to the awful consequences of sin and selfishness. I thought about how every decision we make affects so much more than our little world. I prayed for God to guide and direct each movement I make for good and not evil.

Thank You for Your grace in situations where we deserve the consequences of wrong and You bless us with goodness and mercy. Thank You for my marriage and the living testament it is of how a movement, that of selfishness and pride, and a response of forgiveness and humility can change lives and reflect Your own amazing love.

Monday, July 28, 2008

In Stone

Write your sorrows in sand and your blessings in stone

Friday, July 25, 2008

When you think of Jesus . . .

On Friday nights I always feel the same way--completely and totally empty. I feel like the week has drained every bit I have left to give, and I am toast. Dan doesn't get home until 7 pm, and I have the same response every week. I need a break. I have to get out of this house and breathe. Tonight was a gorgeous summer night with a cool breeze and a beautiful setting sun. I met my friend Sharon for coffee and we sat outside and watched the Hall of Fame hot air balloon show up on The Strip. I have a true love of hot air balloons for many reasons, and I was so thankful to see them tonight. I finally exhaled.

I listened to Sharon share about how she has been since our last meeting. We talked about being real, one of my soap boxes, and then she asked me the most interesting question. "When you think of Jesus what do you see?" I know if I think long enough I see many things, but my first thought is always Him on the cross and me a wretched sinner at the foot of the cross. He is dead. I put Him there. As we talked about this response I began to cry. I realized that I still so many times see myself as not good enough. I still fixate on Christ's death without the proper emphasis on His Resurrection. He died so I might LIVE in the fullness of His forgiveness and grace.

Sharon made a beautiful journal for me that she personalized with lots of words in a collage on the front. She also brought her own journal and shared the following quote with me that had spoken to her this week. I had to copy it as page one in my new journal.

"The forgiven life. The grace filled life. It begins with an embrace; which is more than an elegant word for hug. Hugs are short lived and friendly, handed out like after dinner mints to acquaintances and friends alike. "Here, have one." An embrace is more intentional. Longer, warmer and far more personal. Wherever you are spiritually. Whatever you have been through emotionally you are already wrapped in the Lord's embrace. Held closed by nail scarred hands. Enfolded in the arms of one who believes in you, supports you, treasures you and loves you. He is waiting for you to embrace Him in return. To accept the gift He's offering you. To listen for the whispered words you've longed for a lifetime to hear. You are loved. All is forgiven." -Liz Curtis Higgs

Thank You for holding me in Your embrace of forgiveness and acceptance and love tonight. Please transform my mind and heart to know and understand all that my Savior is to me so I may LIVE! Thank You for the gift of Sharon. Please give her a peace that passes understanding as she rests in Your infinite love for her tonight.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I'm Tired

One of my favorite poets is the children's author Shel Silverstein and tonight I am reciting his poem in my head.

I've been working so hard you just wouldn't believe,
And I'm tired!
There's so little time and so much to achieve,
And I'm tired!
I've been lying here holding the grass in its place,
Pressing a leaf with the side of my face,
Tasting the apples to see if they're sweet,
Counting the toes on a centipede's feet.
I've been memorizing the shape of that cloud,
Warning the robins to not chirp so loud,
Shooing the butterflies off the tomatoes,
Keeping an eye out for floods and tornadoes.
I've been supervising the work of the ants
And thinking of pruning the cantaloupe plants,
Calling the fish to swim into my nets,
And I've taken twelve thousand and forty-one breaths,
And I'm TIRED!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Retail Therapy

I know this will be hard to believe, but it has been over a year since I have been to a shopping mall. I have shopped only for necessities and only at Target or online. I have not gone to a place and just browsed for something to buy simply because I wanted it since March of 2007. On Saturday it was 80+ degrees when we got up. After a week of being chained to the house because of work, I needed to get out. So, Delaney and I decided to go to the mall to walk around in the cool while we pushed Danica in her stroller.

A weekend mall trip used to be part of our usual routine. I worked hard all week and would spend several hours on the weekend spending some of the money I had made. We didn't just go when we needed something. It was not uncommon for us to go pleasure shopping. A new outfit and toy or DVD for Delaney. A new Ann Taylor outfit for my work week or casual outfit from Anthropologie and a new tube of Lancome lipstick for me. Maybe a new pair of shoes to match. We would have lunch out and then maybe buy some new art stuff to do when we got home or go to Barnes and Noble for some new books. On the way home I would get a Starbucks latte', my 6th of the week.

As we entered the mall on Saturday I could feel the hairs on my neck stand up. The old Monica for just a moment showed her face and looked longingly into the stores. My daughter began to ask, "Can we get this? MOM, I NEED THIS." As we passed Ann Taylor Loft I said, "Let's go in here." They were having a great sale. Everything there looks just like my personal style. Oh how I would love a new outfit. It's been so long. But I couldn't bring myself to buy anything. I have clothes to wear. I don't go anywhere I need to reflect an image other than who I am with what I have right now.

The word "ENOUGH" resonated in my head over and over. As Delaney took the money she had saved to buy a new Webkinz. I could see the struggle in her own little head and heart. She wanted more. One suddenly wasn't enough even though that's what we came for. Because the void in my heart and hers will never be filled with things bought in a trip to the mall. Would two new stuffed animals make her happier? For me there is no more happiness found at Sephora and Nordstrom than at Target or Walmart. (I had a severe Sephora addiction. And yes, there is a difference between Stila and Cover Girl, and Stila might make my skin happier but not ME happier.) On our way out I passed Starbucks, and I didn't indulge. I mean I can make a cup of coffee at home, right?

I kept thinking about the change in me. Yes, it has been brought on by circumstances, but it is exactly what I was praying for in early 2007. I was pleading with God to rescue me from the company I was working for and show me how to serve Him, even if it meant making much less (or in His providence NOTHING.) I was praying that He would become ENOUGH. He answered swiftly and mightily. He took my job and health and taught me to depend on Him for EVERYTHING. The thing is, I found great pride in what I was able to do for my family and also for others. I found great peace in the security I thought we had through my work. God showed me every breath I take, every ability He has given me, every opportunity to work or earn is all through Him and by Him and for Him. He showed me the key to serving Him is being faithful with much or with little right where you are.

I felt an amazing peace when I returned home Saturday without bags of things I would cut tags off of and stuff in already full closets. God really is teaching me what everyday simple abundance is. I can say with Paul, "I have learned whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want." Philippians 4:11-12

Thank You that all of You is more than enough for all of me. I am blessed beyond measure and rich in Your love! Thank You for the retail therapy found in not buying a thing!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Leaving Pieces

The day he first told me he was starting to disappear I didn't believe him & so he stopped & held his hand up to the sun & it was like thin paper in the light & finally I said you seem very calm for a man who is disappearing & he said it was a relief after all those years of trying to keep the pieces of his life in one place. Later on, I went to see him again & as I was leaving, he put a package in my hand. This is the last piece of my life, he said, take good care of it & then he smiled & was gone & the room filled with the sound of the wind & when I opened the package there was nothing there & I thought there must be some mistake or maybe I dropped it & I got down on my hands & knees & looked until the light began to fade & then slowly I felt the pieces of my life fall away gently & suddenly I understood what he meant & I lay there for a long time crying & laughing at the same time.
-Brian Andreas, Story People

I have several people in my life who are deep in the trenches of caring for elderly parents. I listen to the stories filled with sadness about the pieces of each life slipping away. I watch and see real love in action. I see their daily sacrifice caring for a person who is no longer really there. In many ways they are just caring for the body because their loved one's mind and spirit have already gone.

One of my favorite movies is The Notebook. It is a beautiful love story about a man who refuses to let his wife who suffers from Alzheimers (and does not even remember he is her husband) be alone. Everyday he reads to her the story of her life from her old journals. He stays by her side into death. I have always wondered how it feels at the beginning--to know you are starting to "disappear" and the helplessness of not being able to stop it. I can only imagine the confusion and sadness as your memories slowly evaporate one by one. And then comes the day when you just don't want to try to keep all the pieces together anymore because you are just too tired and you give up for good.

What questions would we ask one another if we knew it was the last meaningful conversation we would have? What stories would we share? How many more times would we say "I'm sorry" and "I love you"? One of the reasons I write is to leave parts of me for my children and grandchildren. My husband, Dan, lost his mother when he was 13 and really feels likes he lost her years before that while she fought breast cancer. Over and over I hear him wish he had something tangible helping him know her and helping him know how she felt about him. He keeps a journal to our daughters so they will never have to wonder. I think about my own parents and living grandparents, all still with sharp minds. It makes me want to spend more time with them. It makes me want to gather the pieces of these special people so they won't disappear from my life even when God takes their minds or calls them home.

Thank you for my mind and ability to remember Your goodness to me through recalling my own life story. Keep me faithful in recording the pieces of my life so future generations will know YOU!

Would you Change?

I have LOVED Tracy Chapman since I was in college. The song Change has been playing on my ipod recently and making me think a lot about how grateful I am for seeing the "face of God and love" over the past year and all the change it has brought about it my life.

If you knew that you would die today, Saw the face of God and love, Would you change? Would you change? If you knew that love can break your heart When you're down so low you cannot fall Would you change? Would you change? How bad, how good does it need to get? How many losses? How much regret? What chain reaction would cause an effect? Makes you turn around, Makes you try to explain, Makes you forgive and forget, Makes you change? Makes you change? If you knew that you would be alone, Knowing right, being wrong, Would you change? Would you change? If you knew that you would find a truth That brings up pain that can't be soothed Would you change? Would you change? How bad, how good does it need to get? How many losses? How much regret? What chain reaction would cause an effect? Makes you turn around, Makes you try to explain, Makes you forgive and forget, Makes you change? Makes you change? Are you so upright you can't be bent? If it comes to blows are you so sure you won't be crawling? If not for the good, why risk falling? Why risk falling? If everything you think you know, Makes your life unbearable, Would you change? Would you change? If you'd broken every rule and vow, And hard times come to bring you down, Would you change? Would you change? If you knew that you would die today, If you saw the face of God and love, Would you change? Would you change? Would you change? Would you change? If you saw the face of God and love If you saw the face of God and love Would you change? Would you change?

Almost every stanza of this song deserves a blog entry and touches me in some way. Maybe I will break it down and write more later, but for now I just want the words to soak in.

With all my being I thank You for the change you are making in my heart and life, renewing my mind and making me more like You. Thank You for the courage to face the past and forgive and forget. Thank You for the truth, even the painful kind that can only be soothed by You, that sets me free. "I have heard of You by hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You." (Job 42:5)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Beauty for Ashes

“To all who mourn in Israel, He will give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair. For the LORD has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for His own glory.” Isaiah 61:3

Since I was a little girl I have loved oak trees. I grew up in a simple brick 3 bedroom ranch on Hoover St. in Staunton, VA. Anchoring our front yard was a big sturdy oak tree that sheltered years of my childhood. Almost everywhere I have lived I have formed a relationship with a tree, usually an oak. When Dan and I were buying new construction homes there were only little stick trees in our yards, part of landscape package A or B, and I secretly felt like they weren't real homes. I needed a mature tree. I needed a tree that had seen lives come and go, weathered season after season and kept growing gracefully.

One of the many blessings of our new home is the two giant oak trees on either side of our front yard. Today the girls and I had a picnic under one of them. After eating our lunch we read books and looked up into the leafy roof. I said a prayer of thanks for this tree, a reminder of the tree my Savior hung on to pay the price for all my sin. A reminder of the tree my God likened me to in Isaiah, strong and graceful for His glory. At the foot of the cross I stand truly amazed at how my Father has time and time again given me beauty, joy and praise instead of the sinful ashes of despair and mourning He found me in. Thank You!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Morning Glory

Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, "Here I am."
Isaiah 58:9

Thank You for your answer to many prayers and providing a way for my pay to be deposited this morning in our account. Thank You for showing Yourself continually in big and small ways.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Sound of Noise of Rain

If I cannot catch "the sound of noise of rain"* long before the rain falls, and, going to some hilltop of the spirit, as near to my God as I can, have not faith to wait there with my face between my knees, though six times or sixty times I am told "there is nothing," till at last "there arises a little coud out of the sea," then I know nothing of Calvary love.
-Amy Carmichael from If, What do I know of Calvary Love?

*I Kings 18:41

Sunday, July 13, 2008


I received this email from my sister tonight, and it sent me straight to my Bible to read the story of the widow and Elijah.

Dear Mon--I know that our God is an all knowing, all powerful, sovereign, Heavenly Father, but after I talked to you this evening I was just praying and asking God, "Why Lord? Why again? Why them again? Enough already!" When you hurt, I hurt. I just didn't see what good could could possibly come from this. Then as I put Avery to bed and was reading to him from Leading Little Ones to God, the chapter we read tonight was on faith and the widow woman. She was preparing to use her last little bit of flour and oil, during a time of famine, to make a last meal for her and her son. How frightened she must have been to know, "This is it!" I have nothing left to feed myself, but more importantly my child. I wonder what was going through her mind! AND THEN, God sent Elijah, to ask her to give of what little bit she had left to him. How could God ask more of her? How unfair for Him to expect this? No one would have blamed her if she had said, "I'm sorry, but this is all I have!" God tested her to the limit! After I read this, and I thought about your family and the past year. God has definitely seemed to test you to the limit! But in the story of the widow, she gave and had faith in spite of her circumstances, and the flour and oil never ran out. She got her miracle! It doesn't say she ever had a lot or was wealthy because of her faithfulness, but she always had enough to meet their needs! I hope this will encourage you tonight! It challenged me to trust God not only for myself, but for those I love as well. I love you and hold you up before Him tonight! Hope you feel better. Because of Him, Rochelle

Thank you for my sister, Rochelle, tonight and her words of encouragement pointing me to Your faithfulness.

Before Danica Jean

Before you were conceived I wanted you
Before you were born I loved you
Before you were here an hour I would die for you
This is the miracle of life.

-Maureen Hawkins

God Will Make a Way

My sister Rochelle brought me a little wooden sign with the above statement on it while I was in the hospital. Every morning I woke to read that sign on my nightstand. Some days I believed. Other days I could not find my way through my own pain and doubt to really KNOW there was going to be deliverance.

During our most recent trial of losing our home I received an email from a lady from our church. This is what she wrote: "A word of encouragement to you - do not allow yourself to be discouraged. This really is a choice of yours, you can choose to trust our Lord to bring you the answer that He already knows or you can choose to not trust Him and be discouraged. We really don' t have to give in to our emotions - we should be directing them instead of them directing us. When it comes right down to it, anxiety, worry and discouragement don't change reality. Now be encouraged that if Christ is your Savior - you are His child and He has promised that everything will work for your good and His glory. He is not abandoning you, He is no less with you now that He was with you before you received this news. Instead of choosing to worry - choose to praise Him with a heart of gratitude. When you are discouraged, because you probably will be - we are human and our old nature still affects us, lift up your concerns to Him with thanksgiving and He will be quick to restore the peace in your mind and heart that will allow you to do the "next thing". In His perfect timing He will bring you to the answer. Try to remember that the answer is already established - it is just that YOU don't know what it is yet. Work to praise our Lord now, when the answer is not yet disclosed to you, with the same heart and passion that you will praise Him with when the answer is known to you. He is no less powerful and loving when there are unknowns in your life." What really stuck out to me in her words was the reminder that God already had the answer. The light at the end of the tunnel was always there.

Today I received an email from our CFO that I would not receive my paycheck on Tuesday as I normally would because she did payroll a day early and did not receive my time sheet in time. I was at first angry. I mean, it's a VERY small company. Didn't she realize mine was missing and couldn't she have sent me an email? We live paycheck to paycheck. I am counting diapers and scoops of formula until Tuesday morning when I will run to the store to get groceries. Bills are already mailed. I raised my heart to my God and asked Him, "What are you doing?" I only indulged for a few short moments before He quieted my heart, "Be still, my child, I will make a way!" I brushed my tears away. Bills have gone unpaid. Creditors have called. Checks have bounced. There is no shame in the place that God has brought us. I am trusting in God's faithfulness. He has already provided an answer.

What a blessing to be so humbled. What a gift to go from six figures and financial "freedom" to this day to day dependence on my Yahewh-jireh, my Provider. I imagine Him smiling as He sees Satan being defeated this morning. My day will not be wasted in worry. I will trust and obey.

Thank you, God, for helping me to grow in faith when it comes to Your provision. Thank you for always making a way!

Remember the Sabbath Day

Yesterday I woke up with a headache--not your garden variety kind but a big ugly migraine. When I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2001 I suffered endlessly from these, and I can honestly tell you that not a day goes by without one that I don't give praise for feeling well. Dan was working, and as I put Danica down for her morning nap I shifted my gears to begin to race through all I do during that hour--unload the dishwasher, make the beds, take a shower, move the laundry, etc. I went into our room to make our bed, and I looked at the pillows and covers and thought, "When was the last time I got BACK into bed?" I can't remember, so I know it's been months, maybe even since Danica was born. I crawled into the cool sheets and rested my aching head.

The day proved that I really was ill. My headache became worse, I felt dizzy and nauseous. I could really only accomplish the necessary care for the girls. I began to be so sick to my stomach that I had to run back and forth to the bathroom. I guess I may have a virus but my first thought is that my body is doing what it always does when I have pushed it too hard for too long and when I have mixed the over activity with stress. My body is telling me, "Remember the Sabbath day!"

Growing up I have the most peaceful memories of Sundays in our home. The morning began with a special breakfast, usually coffee cake or homemade cinnamon rolls, then we would get ready for church listening to soft hymns. My sisters and I would sing and play the piano as we waited for everyone to be ready. After church we would return home to have a big Sunday dinner, most of which was planned and prepared the night before. The most blessed part of these days was the quietness that overcame our home as we all retired to our rooms to take naps or read or write. The house was still. There was no TV, no computer, no planned activities. We remembered the Sabbath.

I have been reading the book Breathe, Creating Space for God in a Hectic Life, and in the chapter titled Rested Keri Kent writes,

"The Bible commands us to rest. This is, when you think about it, amazing. What a generous and kind God we have. We expect marching orders, or hoops to jump through. But God simply says, "Alright, this will be challenging, but here's what I want you to do; take a break." That should be a no-brainer, right? So it's downright incredible that we so flagrantly disobey him on this.

As I've said, simplicity is all about having a "single eye," which means living with our primary focus on Christ. Keeping Sabbath is a great practice to help us maintain our focus. In the Jewish tradition, the Sabbath is the focus of the week, with three days to prepare for Sabbath, then following it, three days to reflect. This creates a rhythm of life that puts our focus not on our stuff or our schedule but on the opportunity to meet with God. . . The Bible's rationale for the Sabbath is simple; we, God's image-bearers, function best by following God's example, particularly in how we manage our time. Resting on Sundays reminds us of the miracle of creation and the gift God gave himself and his creatures. It reminds us of how to dance the dance of life."

I have been so guilty lately of using all seven days to get through my to do list. I often dread Sunday evenings because I spend several hours working on my lists due the next day. I may take an hour or two, but I certainly have not disciplined myself or my family to make a day of rest and guard it zealously. And so yesterday my body threw up a red flag for my soul and called to me, "REST."

Thank you for your command to remember the Sabbath day. Please give me the grace and strength to obey Your gracious and all wise request that I rest and reflect on a regular and continual basis.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I saw God in a pot of marigolds

I have had a plant stand and two empty pots on my new front porch since we moved in. Every day I have looked longingly at them wanting to go to the greenhouse and fill them with flowers. We moved after the spring planting season, and I have resigned myself to no real gardening this year, but I just wanted a few pots.

This morning I was blessed by a visit to our home from three ladies from our church. Sue, our church secretary, had called early this week to see if they could stop by. I am not used to "visitation" of this kind from people I don't know well, so I was a little anxious. As they walked up the sidewalk I could see their arms full of gifts. They brought pastries and fresh fruit, two devotional books for me, some special lotion and body spray and yes, a big pot of marigolds mixed with perennials and a little birdhouse.

What prompts this kind of love? Why did these very busy ladies take their morning and come to my home? We make so many excuses these days for why we don't have time for people anymore. We explain the lack of outreach to others as a result of our society and the pressures that come from it's hurried pace. The truth is our frenzy to acquire more and do more creates a painful isolation and is not at all what God planned for us. His heart's desire is for us to love and care for one another.

I have been hearing God's call to simplify my life for many reasons, but today I saw His face in the beautiful pot of marigolds and the shining faces of three sisters, and He spoke to me again. Take time. Make time. Be God's hands wherever you are. Keep refining what really matters. You will be richly blessed.

Thank you for the gift of these ladies and their visit today. In as much as they did it unto me they did it unto You! Thank you for my pot of marigolds, a new place I can daily see Your face and revel in Your favor.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


In his book Emblems of the Holy Spirit, F.E. Marsh shares the following thoughts:

In every life There’s a pause that is better than onward rush, Better than hewing, or mightiest doing; ‘Tis the standing still at sovereign will. There’s a hush that is better than ardent speech, Better than sighing, or wilderness crying; ‘Tis the being still at sovereign will. The pause and the hush sing a double song In unison low, and for all time long. O, human soul. God’s working plan goes on, nor needs the aid of man, Stand still, and see, Be still, and know.”

Before I head up to bed I sit here joyfully praying for a friend who just emailed me. She has been in the darkest of places, and I have been blessed to see the tiny rays of light peak through her clouds. I see her finding the joy and peace that comes from REALLY KNOWING God loves her. I see her going to the same still place I meet my Savior and finding REST.

Thank you, God, for capturing this dear one with Your amazing grace and never letting go. Make her a trophy for You.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

An Open Map

"To know the will of God, we need an open Bible and an open map."
-- William Carey, pioneer missionary to India

Thank you for my dear parents tonight and their shining example of "Jesus in skin" as they share the Gospel with children in Mexico this week. Please give me opportunity to share Your love with others and answer Your clear call to service in my heart and life.

Summer Gifts

50. Sidewalk chalk and the masterpieces it creates.
51. Family game time, our new favorite is Yahtzee!
52. The farmer's market and the yummy treasures we find there.
53. Playing on Grandma's new carpet.
54. Cousin fun with Eliana at Pump it Up!
55. Garden gates and the beautiful places they lead us.
56. My niece Mia and her big running hug to greet me after being apart too long.
57. Ferris wheels.
58. Shrimp on the barbie.

59. Sparklers, pop-its and 4th of July fireworks, summer rites of passage.
60. Banana splits and living so close to Milk and Honey we can walk.
61. Carnival rides and a daddy willing to get really sick so the kids can enjoy.
62. Playing with a puppy named Brady.
63. A bunny living in our new backyard because God knew we would miss the chippies and bunnies at our old house.
64. Sink baths.

Monday, July 7, 2008

What a Man

I was up very late last night working, long after the rest of the family went to bed, and as I slipped into bed after midnight Dan rolled over to pat my back as if to say, "Thank you for your work and sacrifice. I know it's hard sometimes." In the middle of the night Delaney came in and tapped my arm. She had decided she wanted to make a pallet on the floor next to our bed, and I reluctantly got up to help her get situated. I looked at the clock, and it was 3:15 am. I told myself I could still get 4 hours of sleep if I was lucky.

Imagine my groan when Danica woke too early today. I heard her cry out at 5:45 am. She rarely cries, so I jumped into action to get her. Dan is off on Mondays, and even though I never really have a day "off" I would never expect him to get up so early when he could catch some extra sleep. I scooped up my baby and heard her growing tummy grumble. We headed downstairs to make a bottle. A few moments later I heard footsteps behind me and there is my dear husband. I tell him it's too early and to head back to bed. There's no reason for us both to be up. He says to me, "Sugar, Booger, I just want to see if you need any help." As I sit down to feed the baby Dan makes me my coffee and then settles in on the couch to just be there with us.

I have known for some time that Dan is special. The ease in our home surrounding the sharing of household chores, care of the children, sleep and alone time is very rare in young families. This morning I was reminded again how blessed I am to have this man as my husband and the father of my girls.

Thank you for the gift of my Dan and the love and care he showed me this morning.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Collage as a Journey Inward

Tonight Delaney and I did one of our favorite projects together and made collages. I love seeing the pictures she chooses to piece together and the things she is inspired by and drawn to. I keep an "Illustrated Discovery Journal" which is basically this big binder I fill with anything and everything I see that reflects me--what I love, enjoy doing or think is beautiful, things I dream about, books I want to read, recipes I want to cook, places I want to travel and on and on. Making collages for me is just taking some of those things and putting them all together on a page. Delaney said tonight while looking at mine, "Mom, you're not supposed to have so many words in a collage." I explained to her that words are one of the things that make me the happiest and so even when I am really looking for pictures I find myself cutting out words and phrases.

A friend recently sent me this exercise where you fill in a list about yourself. Doing the art project and getting out my binder this evening made me think about who I am, and so I decided to complete the list.

i am: a child of God.
i think: too much about everything... too much.
i know: i am blessed.
i want: to simplify.
i have: everything I need.
i wish: i could go to the beach this summer.
i hate: negative energy.
i miss: the Blue Ridge mountains.
i fear: losing my girls.
i feel: peaceful.
i hear: God calling me outside my little world into service.
i crave: more time with my husband.
i search: for more time for what really matters.
i wonder: who my girls will grow up to be.
i regret: the years I wasted in so much sin and sadness.
i love: God and my family.
i ache: when my girls are sick or hurting.
i care: about people.
i always: drink coffee in the morning and pray.
i am not: always strong and brave.
i believe: anything is possible.
i dance: because Delaney asks me to!
i sing: really loud at church and alone in the car.
i cry: more when I am happy then sad.
i don't always: wash my makeup off at night.
i fight: about race relations.
i write: as therapy.
i never: forget to brush my teeth.
i listen: because I really want to know others.
i am happy: about our new home.
i need: alone time.

Thank you for making me uniquely Monica Kaye. I marvel when I see Your fingerprints in my heart and life.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Home Sweet Home

"Why do we love certain houses, and do they seem to love us? It is the warmth of our individual hearts reflected in our surroundings."
--T.T. Robsjohn-Gibbings

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Just another patch

Finding some of my dear books is one of the blessings of this move. I had been ripping boxes open at the old house and could not unearth my copy of Sue Bender's book Plain and Simple anywhere. Today I found it, and I sat on the basement floor and skimmed the well worn pages for the underlined words I had been missing.

At the end of the book she likens our lives to the different patches on a quilt. She writes, "The biggest surprise--and it came as a great revelation--was understanding that whatever happens, no matter how catastrophic or wonderful, it's just another patch. . . Life's all about moving your patches around."

Thank you for the patches of life and the grace you give while moving them. As I stand back and look at the pattern of my life I marvel at Your stitches of perfect love holding each of my days together.