Sisters before the throne of grace...

They gather on my couches and chairs, second Thursday of each month.  We sit and visit, gathering one by one from homes far and wide.  Down paved roads, dirt roads; from town, from farms, coming from family to be with sisters.

The chatter quiets as I begin to talk.  Asking for needs.  One by one they speak, a circle tracing their words.  Sharing joys, pains, loved ones, struggles, illness. 

My pen scratches on the paper in my hand... names, needs, hopes, fears.  The circle completes.  We bow our heads.

Heads bent, eyes closed, we keen out our sorrow and hopes to our almighty Father.  Women joined as sisters in Him, we come before the throne of grace for His children.

Tears, almost always tears.  We feel the urgency.

Yet always, always thanks.  We praise the One who gives and takes away.  We know He is our only hope.

Sisters we, bound together by a ribbon of love given by our sweet Lord.  Heads bowed, hands open to offer what is not ours, to receive that which is nothing but a gift. 


Written in participation with the The Gypsy Mama's 5 minute writing challenge.  This weeks prompt: "the women."  

photo credit: Anita Patterson

Getting things in order - with accountability

Written last night...

I am weary from a day of hair braiding, encouraging word giving and anxious-mother waiting. Our girl walked on stage today for her fifth play, a full-length musical. She was wonderful, just wonderful.

As I peck out words on this board, my forever-love is picking out a new tune on his guitar on the couch next to me. Farmer Boy is diagramming a new social media idea.  The house is littered with piles of paper... pencil sketches of knights and armor by Little Warrior, new creatures designed by his brother, miniature books and stories and letters by The Princess.

Artists. Musicians. Writers. Actors. Our house is brimful.

Oh, friends, let me tell you.... there are so many ideas and projects brewing in this household it boggles the mind. Throw on top of that these lovely rolling acres, with animals and buildings and fences and possibilities. Yes we are a veritable gold-mine of slightly inspired, half-started, rather botched projects.

I have been trying to see all this, er, mayhem, in a positive light of late. Trying to look at it through the lense of blessing.  It is a blessing to have the gift of creativity. A blessing to have abounding resources with which to implement said creativity (oh the pencils and paper and books and musical instruments).  It is a blessing to choose people over things.

But still. A little more order would make those creative juices flow freer, yes?

We have been doing quite well keeping the public space orderly.  Regular speedy-clean-ups done with a timer and a lot of laughter are keeping the disaster monster at bay.  In the public space. Other rooms? Oh. my.

My poor bedroom groans under the weight of books and whatnot destined for resale online.

It is time to start seeds for the spring garden (yes, really... we live in Texas).  My laundry room counter is where they will live and grow for the next month, but it is buried under a massive pile of where-does-this-stuff-go-anyway.

I have been needing to finish designing my new website. I really just want it to be done so I can focus on writing. I need to get my online writing space orderly.  

So. I have been intending to do this all for rather a long time. But I need some sort of structure, some sort of accountability. To that end, I have decided to join other bloggers who are writing about their goals... choosing three to accomplish in thirty days.  One month.

Here are my goals for February:

1) list all of our to-sell homeschooling books on homeschoolclassifieds

2) clear off the laundry room counter and find a home for every single thing

3) finish designing and launch the website

I have identified my main stumbling block - wanting to do everything just right (aka perfectionism). And because that is impossible, I procrastinate the big jobs. I have grown in this area with the small things, but these seemingly mountainous projects still do me in.


homeschool book listing - 1 hour a week
laundry room counter - 5 minutes a day
website design - 2 hours on Monday nights, 30 minutes during my pre-dawn writing time each day.

I am not really sure I am setting reasonable goals. I just really want these things done!

What is YOUR alabaster jar?

Can you imagine? 

Sitting with Him. Eating with Him. Touching Him.

What would it have been like to have been with Jesus when His feet touched soil? 

Can you imagine...

“... a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table.”
Matthew 26:7

I think of this woman in her home, preparing to go to Jesus. I wonder... was she nervous? Did she question herself?

I imagine her as passionate and bold, never thinking twice. I imagine that she rushed from her home, clutching her gift with thoughts only of Jesus.  Her honoring, extravagant gift.

But I don’t know. 

What I do know is that she lavished it all upon Him, crowned him with her offering.

None held back.

Would I have done it?....

I'm guest posting at SomeGirl's Website again today, sharing my thoughts as I finish reading Matthew. To read the rest of What is your alabaster jar? please come over and join us there!

photo credits: feet by Patti Brown, alabaster jar by anvaha

In the quiet, we seek Him

In the darkness of early morning, in houses around the world, sleepy feet walk to the cross. Drawn by awe, we come.

kneeling, sitting
eyes open, closed
singing, whispering, silent...
we worship

In countless languages reading His word... we draw life, drink deep, convicted, constrained, conformed.

And laying ourselves down as an offering, we give thanks, lifting up needs great and small.

Steadfastly we seek His face and are transformed.

In the quiet the world is changed.

Do you set aside time each day to come into His presence? May I encourage you that this is the most important thing you can do for your family and for yourself? To truly grow in joy comes only from growing in Him.

If you are in need of encouragement with your morning routine, visit Inspired to Action or Good Morning Girls for inspiration and fellowship.

Painting: Lady Hamilton Praying by George Romney

Story draws on story...

The windows are black.  The house is quiet.  Little Warrior is sleeping and teeth are being brushed.

It is one of my favorite times of the day.

I sit on the couch and they come.  My nightgown clad nine year old swirls in with her twinkly eyes and jumps up next to me, all elbows and knees.  She throws her legs over mine and rests her head on my shoulder.  With slow steps her lanky teenage brother steadily approaches, eyes hidden by curls, willing to give up computer games to not miss being with us.

The Princess wiggles over, blessing her brother with the rare snuggle with his Mama.  She and I are the bread, he is the filling, as we squish our family sandwich together under wool blankets.

I reach into the spot, the treasured place where the current tale lives, pulling out a world in well-worn paper.  Laura, Aslan, Alice, Pippi, Curdie... the names are many, the worlds different, the draw the same.

Tonight we journey with Curdie.  We have already lived his adventure with girl-princess Irene in The Princess and the Goblin.  We are growing with Curdie into a young man as he is challenged in his faith.

'But if you want me to know you again ma'am, for certain sure,' said Curdie, 'could you not give me some sign, or tell me something about you that never changes - or some other way to know you, or thing to know you by?'

'No Curdie; that would be to keep you from knowing me. You must know me in quite another way from that. It would not be the least use to you or me either if I were to make you know me in that way.  It would be but to know the sign of me - not to know me myself.'
from The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald

The chapter ends, the book closes, I wait for the oft-repeated "Already! But that was so short!"

Tonight it doesn't come, young minds so engrossed with the thread of God woven into the tale.  We begin to talk... how George MacDonald's allegory dips into our own stories, how Curdie and Peter drew strength from each other's faith... how we, our little family, do the same.

And Farmer Boy and I take turns knitting a story for The Princess, remembering.   He one needle, I the other, we take the yarn of our memories and knit for her when God revealed Himself to us both in the same way, at the same time.  The remembering blesses us all.  We draw strength from each other's faith.

Our eyes are heavy, limbs stiff, it is time for bed.  I pray for each, hands on smooth head, curly head.  We each lie down with our thoughts, our prayers, our dreams, so much to hope for... hearts content.

Tomorrow night we will meet on our couch-boat and sail the seas of story again.

So much to be thankful for, always, every day....

51 ~ shelves upon shelves of worlds waiting to be discovered

52 ~ true stories remembered anew for fresh ears

53 ~ letters slowly sounded out while small finger draws paths down words

54 ~ always being young enough to listen to a story read aloud

55 ~ tree felled in a storm years ago becoming the fuel that warms our hearth

56 ~ chicks lost to cold reminding of us of the blessing of the life that remains

57 ~ God's provision even of death-cleaning vultures

58 ~ crockpot that provides a ready hot meal after a day away

59 ~ songs weaving their way throughout our day and our words

60 ~ friend who hears hurt in my voice and prays from her heart

61 ~ new as-yet-unmet friends who welcome my timid writing to their blog homes

62 ~ grace to write when I feel inadequate

63 ~ husband who sees a need and becomes a washing machine repairman

64 ~ grandparents moving so close they see grandkids every few days

65 ~ time to spend in His presence, even when it seems impossible

66 ~ woolen hand-knit blankets

67 ~ building Jericho with blocks and marching and shouting and crashing

68 ~ falling asleep on the couch in the wee dark hours with my bible on my lap, chasing away anxiety-insomnia with God-laced dreams

69 ~ persistence, insistence, never-giving-up of faithful prayers for lost loved ones

70 ~ my children's father, my love, our warrior-protector

Joining the multitudes remembering their multitudes....

No paint for Him

I tend to be a perfectionist, and writing often takes me a very long time. I agonize over each word, reading and rereading to make it all just right. And then am still not happy with it.  

Last week Gypsy Mama challenged fellow bloggers to spend just five minutes writing and see what happened. SCARY. I didn't bite.

But yesterday, as I worked on the farm with plenty of time to ponder the frustrating consequences of my perfectionism, I decided I was going to make myself do it. Like it or not. Because it was good for me.


We are standing in the field, paintbrushes in hand, dripping white on the brown grass.  The brooder stands whitish grey, black in spots from the fire last winter.

Money and time prevent a brand new build, so we do what we can.  I have drilled and nailed and screwed the burnt away parts closed, and now 75 balls of yellow fluff await their new home.

We swish the wet brushes across the gray surface, shining white streaks cleaning wood.

It looks so pretty, I think.  How easy this, to make it look fresh and new, with just a little paint outside.

Yet inside is still black, still burned.

My heart drops.  How like this our world is.  How we try to wipe away the pain and the hurts and the bad by making the outs look pretty.  We whiten up the darkness within.

Yet waiting, there is eaten away wood, black, crumbling inside.

We didn't have time to make things right the way right should be... build from scratch start over make it new.

But my God, my Jesus, He is the carpenter.  That's his business.  No paint for Him.  No.

Tears down, builds up, starts fresh.  Good from the inside out.

He makes all things new.


Seventy Times Seven (The Ropes That Had Bound Me)

Careful lest my heart become bound up like Little Warrior's favorite doll!

I have been enjoying reading the gospel of Matthew so much this month. The new treasures waiting to be discovered in such familiar words never fail to amaze me. My children have been asking me to read Matthew aloud to them, so as we sit at the breakfast table I read, and we talk. 

In our reading this week, the issue of forgiveness leapt from the pages into my heart.

In Matthew 18:21-22, the scriptures recount this conversation...

Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?"

Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

That’s a lot of forgiving. I think of big things... forgiving huge sins, deep wounds. But this passage makes me think that Jesus wasn’t just talking about those....

I'm guest posting at SomeGirl's Website again today and next Friday, sharing my thoughts as I read through Matthew.   To read the rest of Seventy Times Seven (The Ropes That Had Bound Me), please click on over and join us there!

More amazing grace

Well, my friends, you are wonderful.  You have been praying for me.  There's no doubt in my mind.

This morning I had no trouble remembering today's new verse.  Easy peasy.  Amazing.

It was one of those mad-dash homeschooling days with a four hour theater rehearsal plunked smack dab in the middle.  It was the kind of day when I usually feel flustered and slightly overwhelmed and I forget something important and I'm late.  The kind of day when I am not exactly sweet and patient at all times.

Our girl got all her school work done before we left, and we got to the rehearsal on time.  And I didn't have to put on my grumpy Mama voice.  Amazing.

While passing the time waiting for her rehearsal to finish, we went to the library, did some shopping, went to the park... and all the while I had a song running through my head.  Except the song had no tune.  Just words...

... for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the spirit of Jesus Christ...

Where there had been a constant distracting fuzziness of how will I remember all these things I need to do and think and write there was now a steady press of... 

...according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will, even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death...

And more.  Verse after verse after verse.  Words that I had struggled so very hard to find, were now flowing through my mind like a river.  I marveled at this.  I am still marveling.  Marveling at your prayers and the provision of the spirit of Jesus Christ.  Amazing.

.... I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all... 

Never would I have imagined some of these verses being able to apply so specifically to my situation.


Thank you, friends.  And thank you Lord.

Did you figure out that the verses were Philippians 1:3-4, Philippians 1:19, and Philippians 1:20
photo by xandert

My memory failing... yet still, grace

forget-me-nots by Dean Jenkins

I don't really know what is going on, but I am struggling with my memory lately.  It is incredibly frustrating.

When I was a child, I never read books more than once because I found it boring to reread a book I had already absorbed in great detail.  One time through and I was done.  For my entire childhood.

When my parents couldn't remember something... a name, a date, an event... they would ask me.

I did well in school without too much studying because I could remember most everything after hearing it once.

I leaned hard on my memory, and it served me well.

Now I am in my forties.  In the past few years my memory has begun to fail.  I am off balance.

Last spring I had a few small parts in a children's play with my daughter.  She memorized 144 lines in about two weeks.  I had 10-ish lines; it took me two months.

I have been trying to memorize the book of Philippians (for more about that and to join an online community, click on the button in the sidebar), and since December have only been able to add a few new verses.

Today I write for two reasons.

The first is to share an incredible grace... several people have been praying for me to be able to persevere in memorizing Philippians (thank you sweet new friends), and today I saw the fruit of their prayers!  For the first time since December, I was able to make it all the way through the verses I've been memorizing, without getting completely lost and drawing a blank.  And this despite the fact that I had that persistent fuzzy feeling in my head (plus headache), and sometimes felt like it was my mouth remembering, not my brain.

The second is to ask for ideas... what might help me with this memory problem?  I don't so much mean techniques for memorization, although I'll be grateful for those as well.  But my mind... could this be hormones?  I would love to glean from your wisdom and experience! 

It won't surprise you now to learn that I forgot to continue adding to my gratitude list here on Mondays.  But now that I have remembered...  I am ever so grateful for...

41 ~ sisters in Christ who pray without being asked

42 ~ patient children who encourage and applaud as I stumble over words

43 ~ my Lord who is strong when I am weak

44 ~ Advil  :-)

45 ~ helpful ideas that are sure to come

46 ~ my little boy's loving hands stroking my hair as I strive to remember

47 ~ his small whisper of a word or two when I pause

48 ~ the deep grooves in my brain where God is carving His Word

49 ~ sweet tears of rejoicing when I realized the gift I had been given this morning

50 ~ bibles all over the house to lean on when I forget

linking up with Multitudes on Mondays...

If you have experienced memory lapses I would be ever so grateful if you would share what has helped you.  Thank you!

Compassion, Not a Report Card

I didn’t think I was a legalist.

I just thought I was disorganized, selfish and overcommitted.   I was trying really hard to be a good girl, to be a good Christian, and if I could just get organized... read my bible harder... pray more...

Until the day, not too long ago, when I was sharing some struggles with my prayer partner and she reflected, “What strikes me is your observation that you feel like you have a long report card and you are failing in every area.  That is not how God looks at you...

I'm guest posting at SomeGirl's Website today.  To read the rest of Compassion, Not a Report Card, please click on over and join us there!

Grace to be a chauffeur

As some of you know, I have been trying to reach out to a woman in my community who is in need.  Last month I caught a peek behind the strong wall she has built to protect herself, when she reveled in the attention of five singing children.

God continues to move steadily for her.  On Sunday of last week several of us had a productive meeting at church on her behalf (I was so grateful that we were discussing her situation that I cried twice during that meeting... the five men attending were somewhat baffled).  And on the following Monday I had one of those experiences with her that can only be described as a "God moment."

Our older children attend a homeschool PE class once a week.  It is during this time that Little Warrior and I usually visit our friend.  On this particular Monday, I was not feeling very energetic. Unbeknownst to me I was at the beginning of an illness that would last over a week.  But on the heels of the church meeting the previous day, I felt I should stop by.  The Princess had made our friend a card, which she wanted to give her in person.  This meant we would need to visit after the class was finished.  On top of that, in the middle of the class, I got a call from another PE mom who asked me if I could bring her son home, an added twenty minutes of driving.

The stage was set... extra kid in the car, visiting our friend later than usual, wanting to go home and sleep...

We pulled up; she was on the porch by the time we were at the stairs.  The Princess gave her her card, we chatted a bit, and we were about to leave when a truck pulled up.  It was one of the men from church. 

He walked up, smiling and surprised to see us, and asked me, "How much time do you have?"  Turns out he was there to take her grocery shopping but didn't really have the time.  My first (internal) reaction was Oh I am soooo tired.  But I decided to give my husband a call and find out his plans.  It would give me some extra time to pray and think. 

After calling my husband, I decided I would drop off the other boy then come back to get her.  But I found myself inviting her to come with me right then and have dinner.  Without hesitation she said yes.

And so began four hours together. Our extra time in the car delivering my son's friend gave us more opportunity to talk.  She sat at our table and ate dinner with us.  She smiled while were talking.  She looked me in the eye.  We took her grocery shopping, and for the first time she let me in her house, when we brought the bags from the car.

So really the "God-moment" was a "God-four-hours".  It was completely unexpected, and completely awesome.  And I was totally energized and un-sick-feeling from the moment she got in the car until 30 minutes after I got home that night.  And then I was sick for a week! 

All the details were worked out... normally I would not have been there at that time so wouldn't have been there to be asked... the extra driving to drop off my son's friend meant extra time to talk... for some reason I had decided to make a crockpot meal that morning so dinner was ready when we got home... and the complete suspension of symptoms was, well, just plain grace.

photo credit Rodney Campbell

The Wise Woman Builds Her House

This joy thing.  It does not come naturally.

There I stood, hands in a sink of dirty dishes.  Grumbling.  Silent grumbling... turning over grievances, rehearsing rebuttals.

Yet knowing this grumbling is wrong What is it in me, Lord, that makes my brain fill with stinkin' thinkin'? 
The wise woman builds her house,
But the foolish tears it down with her own hands.
It breathed into my brain.  My grumbles paused as I tripped over something new in that well-worn passage.  She builds her house.  Not... she built her house then sat smugly back to survey her domain.  No... she builds.  She is doing.  She keeps doing.

She doesn't stop.

There it is.  The thing that makes me grumbly.  It never stops.  I don't mean the dishes (although their perpetuity elicits grumbles at times as well).

Building my house, my family, my legacy... it never stops.  Seeing my own sin... it never stops.

Having to grow, to try, to ask forgiveness... to start again... it never stops.

There is no resting on laurels.

Funny, a few months back I stumbled over the present tense in another scripture.   He makes the barren woman a joyful mother of children.  He never stops. 

Did I mention?  This joy thing.  It does not come naturally.

Grumbling yes.  But the joy?  Only grows when I give the grumbling over.  When I lay it down at His feet and give thanks.

Like a bud deep within me it waits, needing living water to grow and bloom.  And I hold the handle to the door that lets the Gardener in.

No, it does not come naturally.  It is nothing but a gift when I sense the creaking of unfolding petals.  The melting of snow.

He is making ALL things new.  And He never stops.

scriptures ~ Proverbs 14:1, Psalm 113:9, Revelation 21:5
photo credit ~ Karen Miller

Gleaning Hope in Genealogy

Ruth in the Fields by Hugues Merle 1876

I'm reading through the gospel of Matthew this month.  Matthew starts with 17 verses of genealogy... not usually the most inspiring part of the bible, eh?  But by the time I was at verse 16 I was rejoicing!

A quick glance at the record of the 42 generations sweeping from Abraham to Jesus reveals men.  Lots of men.  But sprinkled amongst the men are a few women, women who were notable enough to garner a mention. 

These are Jesus' female ancestors.  His mother, yes, but also great great great (etc!) grandmothers...


Each one of these women, from a worldly perspective, was an outcast or a failure in some way.

Tamar tricked her father-in-law by pretending to be a prostitute, and conceived their son Perez.

Rahab was a prostitute who hid Israeli spies.*

Ruth was not born a Jew but was a convert, a remarkable inclusion given that Jewish descent is passed through the mother.**

Bathsheba cheated on her husband Uriah and had an affair with King David.  David had her husband killed off then married her.

Mary was pregnant before she was married.

I look at these women and I rejoice!  I rejoice because He makes all things new.  He takes our humanness, our brokenness, and from it He brings life.  He knows our situation and He sees our hearts.

Tamar longed for a child but had been denied proper treatment according to custom after she was widowed.  Rahab recognized the Israelites' God as the one true God and honored Him.  Ruth chose to honor God by remaining faithful to her mother-in-law, and converted to Judaism.  Bathsheba was punished for her sin by the death of her infant, but her husband's repentance and God-loving heart allowed for their son Solomon to continue the family line toward Jesus.  Mary was a servant-hearted young woman who joyfully accepted the stunning news that she would bear the Son of God.

God saw their hearts.  He did not look at outward things.  They were human, broken, but He used them for His good purposes.

Reading Matthew 1 I felt like Ruth gleaning in the fields... the genealogy parts of the bible almost seem like the leftover not-so-important bits, and yet right there was nourishment and life!

Remembering that Jesus' grandmothers were broken just like me brings me hope.

What hope has God breathed into your brokenness lately?

* There seems to be disagreement as to whether or not the Rahab listed in Matthew is the same as the Rahab in Joshua.  There is reasonable evidence that she was not.  One does wonder, though, why a previously unmentioned woman would show up in Jesus' genealogy.
** For a dissenting view on Ruth and Rahab, see Rahab & Ruth: Who Were They?
"Ruth in the Fields" image is in the public domain

Joy Sprinkle 100 ~ Something Special to Come.....

And here we are!  100 days! 

Boy, I have a lot I could write about these past few months and how this little challenge has affected me, and even impacted my family.  And I will write about all that. 

About how easy it is to sprinkle joy for my children just by choosing to set aside some work for a few moments and focus exclusively on them.  About how my eyes have been opened to needs in my community that I was unaware of.  About how my heart expanded with compassion and love when I walked through fear to reach out to people who are very different from me.

But today I want to tell you not about something I did today, but something I have been working on that is coming. 

First of all, I am moving this blog, and another that I occasionally write, to one place.   When that move happens, I will be undertaking a few new things. 

I have received a wonderful response to this challenge, and as a way to help other people challenge themselves, I will be regularly posting ideas along with link-ups.  I hope you will find inspiration and support to sprinkle joy in your world!

In addition, I have seven wonderful ministries to share with you that I found over the past few months.  See, I got to thinking... how can I sprinkle some of the little ministries out there that make a big difference in a few people's lives, but have little publicity or funding?  By helping them out with publicity and funding!

For each ministry, we made a donation, and received something wonderful (in most cases an item, and in one a service), that I am going to sprinkle on one of you!  I will tell you about the work that each ministry does, and offer a giveaway.  I hope you will enjoy this... some of the items are fun, some are beautiful, some just plain practical.   These ministries are from around the globe.  You will be amazed!  I sure have been.

Thank you all, dear friends, for your support and encouragement these 100 days.  It is only the beginning!

Joy Sprinkle ~ Day 99 ~ Letter to My Godmother

My godmother, who is also my aunt, lives about 2000 miles away.  I see her every two years or so, but I really don't do a good job of keeping in touch.  I send her a Christmas gift, and try to remember to call on her birthday, but even when I am in her area, we rarely get much time to visit.  As I neared the end of my challenge, I wanted to pick someone special to sprinkle, and she came to mind.

The card I picked out for her was actually a birthday card, but had the sentiments I wanted to express.  So I crossed out "Happy Birthday" and wrote a little love note.
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