About Shanda

wife, mom of seven, friend, child of God

more than words

I woke up last night and went to the bathroom. I never turn on lights, I find great satisfaction in carefully making my way in the dark. When I came back to bed, I nestled right into my husband like we have gotten into the habit of doing, how delightful and cozy, his shirt smelled clean and lightly of bleach, it was up a little bit and my arm was across his soft warm skin. He woke up and I asked him if I was bothering him, ready to move away if I was so he could sleep. “I’m too hot,” he said, taking my arm and putting it back around him. He pressed his nose into my hair contentedly and I fell back to sleep……….

I woke up last night (a second time) and I was alone in the bed. I reached for my phone to check the time, 4:22 am. I couldn’t resist figuring out what he was doing, so like any good & nosy wife, I got out of bed and walked barefoot across the cool wooden floor, out the door to find…….

My husband playing the wii. I was instantly amused. He couldn’t sleep so he decided to get to “pro level” on the golfing game. I woke up just in time to see him take a swing. I laughed, he laughed, we hugged, and I went back to bed and fell sound asleep…… (I’ve been sleeping wonderfully…… and he has not, my sister and I think it’s because he won’t eat carbs, I mean how can anyone relax without baked goods?)……. He’s doing Keto like it’s going to bring about world peace. And as I slept, I dreamed a question; *Did He or Did He Not Make it to Pro?”

I woke up this morning at around 9? I think? Still no husband in bed, so I opened the door and cheerfully announced, “I AM READY FOR MY COFFEE!” He looked up from his chair and said “Good morning!” The boys looked up from their game at the table and said “Good morning mom!” I said “Good morning!” in return, and went back to bed. Wonderful Saturday.

Rich brought my coffee (in a meadow fiesta mug) and then went around on his side to get in bed with me. I thought “Oh this will be cozy, we can be lazy and talk and visit and read.” Our big black cat joined us, the dog flopped on the floor in our room to sleep, I opened my book, my coffee in hand………not even surprised when Rich fell promptly to sleep within seconds. Like, twitching!

My night owl.

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” Antoine de Saint-Expery, The Little Prince

My heart is often bursting with seeing. This blog is more than words; it’s my heart.

*He did

this and that

I came to consciousness this morning as the dog was outside, scratching on the door to be let back in the house. I slowly opened my eyes and saw through a crack in the curtains a very pink sky. Somehow I really needed to see this sky. I took my phone off the nightstand and turned it on, got out of our warm bed, and padded out to the porch to look at it.

Our house faces the rising sun and it’s something I am most thankful for. As I turned to go back inside I noticed the sunrise had been painted across the glass windows.

I went back to bed and fell asleep for two more hours. When I got up I sat in the chair in front of the fire to finish my book and drink coffee. Brittnee came down all dressed and pretty. “I just woke up,” I said. She said she knew because Seth knocked on her door to tell her “‘Sarah won’t let me use her charger and I’m at 2% and she’s at 50’. So I knew you weren’t up yet.” Somehow that really made me laugh and be happy, my children left me alone so I could sleep! Brittnee is a great “second mom” around here…….

Life is good. I have much of the preparations for Christmas Day complete, however I don’t feel like baking cookies. Like, at all.

I have most of the presents wrapped, but I’m not bothering to hide them and they stay in the corner of my room in a pile. If they want to snoop, oh well.

We bought an artificial tree this year, Rich has always admired the white flocked trees. Again; I just don’t care anymore……I used to say “Never! I want a real tree & a real tree ONLY!” I was so uppity about it. I wonder if this “getting older” thing is a blessing in disguise. I find myself letting go of things I clutched so dearly in the past. Our artificial tree looks beautiful, doesn’t shed needles, is prelit with flickering warm lights, and I don’t have to worry about watering it. It can stay up as long as we wish and won’t change from fresh and green to crisp and green.

Ethan and I bought a train to go around the tree, a Harry Potter train set from Costco. It makes me twitchy though because it sounds just like the robot vacuum cleaner that we have. Whenever the vacuum is running I have to be hyper vigilant about keeping the basement door shut. Consequently, whenever the train is running I keep running to shut the basement door. 🙂

Parker showed me how to get a small bit of bacon from Brittnee. Just stand and stare.

Brittnee and I play rummy constantly, sometimes with Jacob or Ethan, rarely with Rich, but the two of us play almost daily. She consistently wins, so that on a rare day that I win, it’s extra exciting for me. Today it was “rummy during breakfast”. She was depressed at the time because not only did she crack one of her egg yolks but we are also out of ketchup. Oh the horror.

Seth went around asking everyone how many mozzarella sticks they wanted for lunch and then after he put them in the oven, he went downstairs to play Rocket League, forgetting all about them. I ended up taking them out of the oven myself, while David ran down to yell to Seth that ” Your cheese sticks were ON FIRE you DUMMY!!!” Seth came running upstairs smiling because he (naturally) didn’t believe David. Caleb observed, “There’s NOTHING in these anymore!” and I said, “Your older siblings called these ‘exploding cheese'”, (eat them anyway). And they did. Even Rich had one, saying dryly, “I just love it when my cheese stick turns into a cheese cracker”.

You know, just family life stuff. It’s busy and fun, and I have time in the afternoons when it’s quiet and calm. The children can all fend for themselves. I tuck into the corner of the couch and read, drinking coffee and tea, with a cat purring on my lap. I’ve been sewing when I feel like it and realized again how calming it is, even if threading a needle is a lot harder than it used to be. I need glasses. I made a potholder and am now making a small wall hanging which I secretly think looks like a slice of ham from a distance.

Ethan gets home from Fed Ex at around 10:30am and he blames his job as a manager in a warehouse for the way he stomps around the kitchen making himself lunch as soon as he arrives. He’s the one who noticed that there were a lot of cups missing. “Where are all the cups? There are literally no cups, where did all the cups go? I don’t understand it. There are no cups.” So……..I stepped in and asked David to “Go around the whole house and find dirty dishes.” He appeared from the basement with this entire box full. He saw me take the photo and asked “Where is that going?” “To social media, tagged with your name!” “You’re low-key proud of this, aren’t you?”

I wouldn’t say proud, but “determined to laugh”, yes.

Brittnee and I realized we prefer Alexa to play “Jazz Christmas music” more than any other genre. But David likes Justin Bieber. He was flat out re-amazed at his talent, he says “bruh!” at every talented note sequence. Everyone’s “Bruh” to him now, and I’m sick of being called Bruh. “No one should call their darling MOTHER Bruh,” is what I say.

Reminds me……a couple weeks ago he was in my room sitting on the bed and I didn’t know it. I ran in to change my pants and as I pulled the old ones off all the way down to the floor I heard someone behind me saying “BRUH!” like his eyes were on fire, and it was David…..I was horrified, “David, David! Run into the bathroom, don’t look, get out!” He was so dry and calm about it, “It’s not like it even matters now Mom,” “I don’t care!!! get out!”

Back to music, there are certain songs I cannot listen to anymore including but not limited to “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”, “The 12 Days of Christmas”, “Baby it’s Cold Outside”, and “All I want for Christmas is You”. I can’t, I just can’t.

Sherlock as taken to sleeping in this deep basket, which I think is the cutest thing in the world. You can’t see him unless you are purposely looking in, and it’s so funny the way Penny the kitten stands up with her front paws on the rim, to look down and see if he’s there.

Rich and I were talking about McRibs a week or so ago and when we googled we saw that they were returning….so today when I dropped David off at work (he’s a cashier at the grocery store, and so awesome at it) I swung around the drive through to get three; one for me, one for Rich, and one for Caleb. Ethan has Crohns now and can’t eat them. The McRibs were very messy with all that sauce, but tasty.

What else? It’s pretty cold outside and today was the first day since the temps dropped into the 30s that I went out for my walk. It was very nice to get some fresh air, I gulped and gulped.

I had the piano tuned yesterday and the old-man piano tuner was very interested in my bird feeders outside the window. He didn’t even know what a blue jay was. Maybe he will go home and put a bird feeder up. It’s never too late to add a small joy to living.

Tomorrow Sarah has a check up and is nervous about shots. Oh, speaking of Sarah, she asks me daily if we can make cookies, including the last time…… which was about 2 hours ago. It sincerely pains me to say no to her, but it would pain me even more to make them (I can’t seem to muster up any desire) so I said, “no”. To which she replied, “I’m so bored……what will I doooooooo”, and wandered away.

Half an hour later I noticed her outside by herself, sitting on a sled sliding down the hill in the cold fading sunshine.

It was the cutest thing I had seen all day. She had figured out what to do.

for my parents

the best is yet to be.

home
how many Christmases have there been?
together, we make a home

I was loading the dishwasher and cleaning out the sink this morning, early, while the children were busy getting ready for the day. Ethan and Jacob were talking, David, Caleb, and Seth were already gone on the bus, Brittnee was getting ready for work, and Sarah was just getting up and talking to her kitten. I was listening to music; an indie folk Christmas playlist on the Alexa, while scrubbing and wiping and puttering around, when a song came on and stopped me in my tracks.

Life is seasonal, just like the weather. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter.

And when you raise a family the changing years are all impossible to ignore, especially during the holidays.

Maybe this is why emotions run so hot this time of year, at the oddest moments they hit.

I remember years ago reading a quote, “The best way to prepare for the next season of life is to ENJOY THE ONE YOU’RE IN”. I’ve taken this to heart because somehow I’ve always known that “the days are long but the years are short.”

This morning Sarah was pressing her face to the window when she noticed icicles hanging off the bushes…….”I’m going out to get an icicle! Want one?” she (very thoughtfully) asked. “Sure!” I agreed. There are so many chances in a day, to enjoy. Soon we were crunching into them and I was deep down content, feeling ten years old again, with my youngest, who is ten for reals……..

Young married couples, couples with babies, couples with babies AND children AND teenagers AND adult children, and then………couples who have paved the way and show us the rewards of years raising up the next generation, now…….. with an empty nest? No, not empty, FULL, rich and full with a bountiful harvest of layer upon layer of loving memories, I see it everywhere when I travel back to my childhood home, this harvest, these memories.

I see two people, who after all these years are so much together that they are one.

All is grace.

but what does it look like?

I want a tender, juicy, dripping, messy-making heart.

God knows this, and He created me this way.

Sometimes we go through the desert to prepare for new growth.

You know, kind of like when I “three-quarters kill a plant” because I didn’t water it for a month or more. Then, I have to slowly encourage it back to life. The dead parts get cut away and new bright green things appear, fresh and tender.

From dry to fresh and new could happen in any length of time, a day, a year, five years……..over and over, a cycle, a weather cycle of the heart.

I woke up this morning thinking about the heart.

And a Christmas hymn that always squeezes my own.

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.

That last line.

The loving heart MUST give. And what does it give? Itself. But what does it look like? “Open my eyes that I may see, glimpses of truth Thou hast for me”. An unexpected note in the mail from a friend, a smile right into the eyes, being vulnerable, reaching out, opening up. A song, a dance, a painting. Being thoughtful. Knowing someone, learning them. Words, The Word, gold, frankincense and myrrh, an alabaster jar of perfume, a seat at the table, death on the cross, a tomb for His body, The body, blood, sacrifice, resurrection, eternal LIFE, a place in Glory…….. “For God so loved the world, that he ……..G A V E.”

*********

This is Grace’s fourth year of college and the youngest ones look at her with such adoration. They admire their big sister and seeing this love between them is one of the biggest brightest gifts of my motherhood journey. Having her home over Thanksgiving added sparks of joy for all of us, but I wonder if it was deeper and truer coming from the hearts of the youngest ones, who aren’t busy with “things to do that must get done”. (  “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,  but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”). Children seem to naturally choose “what is better” and are watching, playing, carefree. Behind those glowing eyes is a thoughtfulness that gives birth to the sweetest moments.

Seth has been sleeping with the same brown, loose limbed bear since he was a newborn. Mr B has been with him every night for the last 11 years, except for the times when Seth, in his excitement, forgot to take him on trips. He is Seth’s most valued possession and has a very friendly and knowing face. I have made Mr B dance for him, talk to him, walk into his room for him, put clothes on him for a surprise, and we make up stories, all of which has, to Seth, made his Bear very real indeed. (“When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”~ VR) By the way, when he was very little, Seth pronounced “Bear” like “Beer” and a few of us still call him Beer at times, because it’s cute and funny.) So you see, he has a whole family presence.

Imagine our shock on Sunday afternoon, when Grace skipped out the door to go back to college, WITH MR B held in her arms. What was happening? Did she take Mr. B? We whirled around to look at Seth, who was at the door with us, waving goodbye with pride. “I want Grace to take him with her to college,” he explained. “I gave him to her. To borrow.”

He gave his most precious possession; his heart.

And he gave it with joy and an open hand. Mr B was going to visit college with Grace! Oh the stories he will tell when he returns………..

The next day he sought me out and confessed that he had woke up in the night, feeling around with his hand for Bear, and then remembered he was gone. “So I went back to sleep.”

“Oh! Seth! come here, Seth!” I said, remembering a photo I had gotten from Grace while he was at school, “I want to show you something!”

He held my phone and I looked at his face.

“Bear,” he sighed, giving me back the phone, and turning away with a smile on his face. He was ready to get back to his busy day.

it’s a love without end

Dearest Grace of mine,

We miss you. The house is not the same with everyone here and you so far away at college. I’ve often said that I am so blessed and satisfied with you children, that even if God just gave me YOU, I would have a heart overflowing with gratitude. I say this so that you know I deeply cherish YOU specifically, individually, you aren’t just the “third of seven”, you are my one and only Grace Lillian. My daughter, my friend. It’s my joy to love and care for you, and the rewards you give in return, just by being your own wonderful self, are uncountable.

When I think back, I remember a small pregnancy (my tummy always measured small with you & a lady at church never even realized I was going to have another baby until she saw the birth announcement in the bulletin, she wrote me a note saying “where were you hiding baby Grace?”), a small newborn (only 5 lbs, 13 oz), and a tiny girl (so petite, Grandma gently wondered in every conversation if I was “feeding you enough”—-I was!! of course I was)!

It’s no wonder the quote, “And though she be but little, she is fierce.” reminds me of you. You have a zest for life and seem to be tireless with all the things you take responsibility for, and you never give up on the things you know need to be done. (this is sometimes annoying).

You have made a difference in numerous lives, and I am thankful to God that you’ve made a difference in mine. I learn just as much from you as you do from me. I am honored to take the things I see in you and “keep them in my heart” and I thoroughly believe that God gave me you and your siblings because He knew I could learn no other way what the realities of life with Him can truly be. I was born to be your mother.

I always have my birthday child in mind, when their special day comes around. My heart is bursting with thankfulness as I think about that priceless life I have been able to keep for just a little while. I take out the baby books and read the journals and the blogs about that special someone. I have been doing this lately in your honor, my November baby, here at home, studying your photos, your smile, thinking about the ways you have made your way through life so far, seeing the little signs of you all around the house. I took out the journal I kept from when I was a very young mom, pregnant for you, while caring for a 2 year old Jacob, and a one year old Ethan and read it, relished it, feeling like it was yesterday, amazed.

Later that day, your Dad sat on the couch next to me. The diary was still on the coffee table and I considered…….He’s never read my private journals, he knows they are mine and he respects that, I never thought to offer them to him. They are my own ramblings and scratchings of daily life, but I thought “maybe he would enjoy a glimpse back in time” so I handed him the book………

He sat and read with an amusement and interest I have never seen him have over the written word. “This is more interesting than a History book,” he said. He laughed at the antics of the boys, and my funny remarks about their mischief. He was truly disappointed in the times he would turn the page and find that “four years have passed”.

He read a lot of it out loud to us, laughing to tears, but the tears that came when he got to this part showed how much his little girl means to him:

“Grace is four years, five months. She’s starting Kindergarten this fall. Her hair is down her back, she wants to grow it out. She’s very sweet and I enjoy watching her and her Daddy interact. She has her own room, collects Minnie Mouse, (sometimes we call her ‘Minnie’), she likes to play with her dolls, and adores her baby brother David.”

April 15 2004, shanda’s diary

His voice broke and tears rolled down his face. Sarah asked in wonder, “are you crying Dad?” and he (flat out lied) said, “no”. But he was, and for the rest of the journal he was sober and serious.

Life truly passes by quickly, and it’s okay. It’s the way God made life. It’s a blessing and a good thing that our days are numbered. “….so that we may grow in wisdom…”

Love is beautiful and what makes life worthwhile. (God IS love) We love you Grace, and want you to know we are here cheering you on in every messy-beautiful thing you do, good or bad, safe or unsafe. (preferably unsafe) *wink*

Happy birthday dearest girl.

this took me a long time

Hold your breath, we are diving into a photo dump this morning!

Do you remember our cat, Peninsula? We got her at Petsmart this summer in Brunswick, GA and she almost died on us. Well, here she is, healthy and bright but NOT affectionate, which frustrates us all except Sarah (Penny LOVESSSSS Sarah). We want to pet her, but she reacts to any motion toward her, by fleeing like she thinks we are about to hurt her in unspeakable ways. Look at her face! Who wouldn’t want to snuggle this sweet kitten?

This is the prettiest tree on our street. Quite obviously.

I walk almost every day, my goal is 10,000 or more steps. I love to listen to a good podcast while I walk, wearing my husband’s AirPods. I am particular though, and sometimes end up spending most of my walk trying to find one that will hold my interest, rather than actually hearing one. Sometimes I resort to my favorite music, because it’s dependable.

One day I came home with a nice branchy-branch. Why? Because Joanna and I saw the neatest thing; someone took a branch like this and hung it upside down from the ceiling and turned it into a mobile with feathers hung on strings all over it. I plan to do the same, only not just feathers, other things too. I will show you the end result.

I’ve been reading a lot. I am working through every Newbery winner and honor book, and also reading other books as well. Two books I can HIGHLY recommend that I’ve read lately are Dancing With the Octopus, and Golem Girl. If you purchase Golem Girl, (which you truly should) do so in hardcover, as it is interspersed with the author’s own drawings, and some personal photographs as well. Take the time to read the descriptions of the books on amazon, and maybe you’ll find that you enjoy the stories, they really captured my interest and inspired me (both are memoirs, which is my favorite genre).

I wasn’t going to purchase a puzzle unless I found the perfect one. This was it!!!

Another walking selfie. 🙂

I look this happy because I just got done with my walk (walking is a big boost to my spirits).

When I say “Rich, I’m on a walk, I’m going to the Red Barn and back” this is what I mean. Isn’t it the most lovely barn? It’s always quiet, like no one uses it anymore. The tractor is parked and little trees are growing up around it. Some of the doors are open, revealing dusty rooms with untouched tools, boxes, tins, and so on. I wonder about it.

I’m always after that allusive apple; the one that reminds me of the “wild” ones that grew up the road past my Grandparent’s farm house. The one that is crispy and cool, juicy and sweet-tart. So, when I walk past another old apple tree and see its fruit all over the ground beneath, I take a couple and eat them. They are apples that could never be sold in the store, with lumps and bruises and worm holes. But I know how to eat them, it’s rather fun actually, like a challenge, exciting, you just don’t know when you will bite the wrong spot.

Any-who, the little one was perfect, the bigger one was mealy. No one likes a mealy apple.

Jacob and Brittnee made dinner last week, like three nights in a row; they made beef and broccoli over rice, beef stew, and this chicken parmesan. I am a very blessed woman, in fact, this morning David came in my room with a poached egg for me, served over a slice of avocado, with bacon and a sauce on top. I could cry……….

My brother Dave sent me this pic from our parent’s house; it’s me as a young teenager, in my bedroom hugging a cat, whose name escapes us now. Behind me is my “Me Poster”, a poster paper that I glued pictures on that I liked, until the whole thing was as full as could be, a most wonderful collage of “me”, I still have it, it’s under my bed as I write…..

The crocheted blanket was made by my Great Grandma and I still have it, too.

The two photos that I have tacked to the wall; one is of me as a dumpling-baby grinning my face off, and the other one is me and my brother David together on Mom’s bed, looking cute and happy and my arm is around him.

Cat posters, too.

It’s so satisfying to know that the things I love (joy that makes a smile huge, cats, siblings, homemade things, photos) haven’t changed over the years.

*favorite kombucha from Trader Joe’s, the flavor is perfect and I wouldn’t change a thing. “Living in Gratitude” fall edition.

Autumn is a most dazzling, almost too bright, time of year!!!!!

It rained and rained all day yesterday but today the sun is shining just like this again, so now the air isn’t dry and dirty anymore, it’s fresh and clean and wholesome. As soon as I am done here I’m fleeing for the outdoors. Seth wants to show me that the stream is full again.

I was on the porch and found my charming daughter under the bushes, reading with a clock next to her (she must have been on a schedule) and her head upon a backpack and stuffed rabbit.

Seth being a stinker and putting his brother David’s new birthday hat on his head. “Mom take a picture and send it to Dave”. (Dave was in another room of the house) Dave was also in a bad mood and didn’t react the way we expected, “I don’t care” is what he said……

The other day I found the pretzels open in the pantry and I said “Seth, go put clothespins on this so it’s shut”. He turned around to do what I said and I got back to searching for whatever it was I was trying to find, and then two days later I sat down on the porch and ……. saw…….that he had indeed completed the task…..but not the way I expected. I’m still laughing about it.

So, this area in my bathroom was bothering me to no end. Finally I decided to DO SOMETHING about it, instead of just being bothered. So Jacob and I went to a furniture consignment shop and found a little cabinet….

(I told you this was going to be an exhausting post)

The stack of towels AND the seasonal clothes fit in this! I was so pleased.

I am so pleased. Look at my little things! I love my perfume collection, the doilies picked up from thrifting adventures, the books, and the covered glass dish which holds costume jewelry and used to be my husband’s grandmother’s…. (and will someday be either Grace’s or Sarah’s)

Let us end the post the way we began, with another photo of Penny the kitten. (the furniture belongs to the pets, too). Ethan plays us music every day and Seth has been shooting nerf guns on the daily.

A happy Wednesday to you, and you, and you, and guess what?

You are loved. Greatly.

xo

very rainy day, today

Hello dear friends,

All is well. Turns out that so far Jacob is the only one of us to come down with Covid, and he’s now all better and going back to work soon. We have settled into a routine and it’s been cozy and delightful for the most part (I have to be honest!). With nine of us in the house you can imagine how much activity there is here………

……and today was a very rainy day.

You are loved.

*****

Rain and wind speak more
than just water and air
Rain patters hope
Wind whispers let go…
~Terri Guillemets

covid in the house

Good morning, it has been a beautiful fall weekend. Admittedly, the days are blurring together now. Jacob was tested positive for coronavirus last week, along with his two friends who were at the house visiting us recently. After calling the schools, we were encouraged to take the family to be tested so we did that on Friday (3 days ago). So far we have learned that Brittnee and Rich are both negative, and we are awaiting results for the rest of us. The test was a simple throat swab, done in a drive-through. We couldn’t help laughing through it, despite the strange stress of “finally” being exposed by direct contact through a family member and friends. And, Jacob is already feeling better.

So the days are spent at home, all of us are here. Rich works from the office in the garage and the four public school children work in the house with their school-borrowed laptops. They will be home until this personal quarantine is over, and we don’t know how long that will be, since there are so many of us here in the house who haven’t gotten it yet, but might. Jacob, Ethan, Brittnee, and David aren’t able to work, either. They can’t be around anyone until this sickness within the family is over and quarantine is up.

It’s all rather up in the air.

So I don’t spend much time thinking about tomorrow.

I take each day as it comes.

trusting.

I’m not upset or stressed or freaking out. Why? The grace of God, really. For this experience, He has given me a calmness. Whether calm or anxious, I know He loves me just as I am.

And I think this is what I am learning most. To let myself be, to stop “picking” on myself, my faults and bad habits, my thorns in the flesh, my besetting sins. Despite the flesh, despite that it is weak, my spirit is oh so very willing. I long and want to please my heavenly Father. I feel His love so delightfully, and His gracious and merciful relationship with me gets me through each moment. I see Him everywhere, and I revel in the eyes He gave me; eyes that see, eyes that search, eyes that feast on his showers of blessings. Blessings for me, and blessings for all who love Him. “What a joy divine, leaning on the ever lasting arms.”

Come boldly, believer, for despite the whisperings of Satan and the doubting of your own heart, you are greatly loved. CS Lewis

I went out to toss the garbage in the bin and I was stopped in my tracks by a singing bird. It didn’t stop making music, even though he was in the midst of fluffing and arranging his feathers and looking all around on high alert. He was a busy bird, but sang all the while, for minutes at a time.

He can’t help it. He must let loose with music.

All of God’s good creatures are the same. As we go about our days, do you see the friend nearby, smiling to herself? Or giving a small gift to another? Neighbors visiting with sincere care and concern for each other? That stranger in the distance, dancing to music only the can hear? That man, tenderly helping someone not as strong? Teachers patiently taking on the challenges of the day, with understanding and example? flowers, phone calls, healthy foods, pets, music of all kinds, wise words in books and online, curiosity, ideas, love……..

All of these good things are from God.

Seeing and experiencing His love makes the path to Heaven tolerable, no not tolerable, more than that…….the path to Heaven is rich and fragrant, just think; we start out as spiritual babies and enter the gates strong and fat and mature, on his grace and care. The path to Heaven is life-giving and we are the partakers of this life. Abundant and free.

There is so much freedom in a simple life, and simple thoughts, like a trusting, content child.

Now and then the wind blows, the fire burns, the water drowns, and yet those are beautiful times as well, because they make the child stronger, and increase faith and trust.

Serenity under the roar and rush of unexpected evils is a precious gift of divine love. CS Lewis

You will never know the fullness of Christ until you know the emptiness of everything else. CS Lewis

The God
who has been
sufficient until now
can be trusted
to the end.
CS Lewis

To my dear friends; you are loved.

incontinence

I have no problem with incontinence. I’ll very likely be incontinent sooner rather than later. In fact, now and then I sneeze and have a startling moment of it already.

I woke up yesterday morning, went to the bathroom, and realized that it was that time of the month again, and I had nothing with me in the hotel Rich and I were staying in. “Can you run out and get me some pads while I get ready for the day?” He was happy to do so and even asked me what exactly I required. “I want natural cotton, WITH WINGS.” “Wings?” “Yes, wings, pads, natural cotton.” “Okay, I’ll be right back.”

I put on my make up and got all pretty for our day. Eventually, he returned, and he was annoyed.

“That CVS is terrible! They had like NOTHING. These are THE BEST I could find for you, the very best.” In all his honest manly innocence, he handed me the plastic bag and I opened it.

My heart sunk. I felt terrible. Should I pretend they were what I wanted? No, no, I had to say something. “RICH THESE ARE FOR BLADDER, NOT FOR PERIOD!”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“Rich it says right on the box, look here on the back, these are made for ‘drips, spurts, bursts, surges, streams, and gushes. I can’t. I can’t wear these. I have to return them.”

I was close to tears. Somehow, although we were both laughing, the thought of using a product for incontinence just wasn’t something I could do. Is it because I could see it so vividly in my future? Or because,

on this very day,

the day Rich bought me a box of bladder pads,

we were celebrating

our TWENTY FIFTH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY

and my “getting older” emotions were already red-hot aching for all the years that have come and gone?

Not to mention, that after 25 years he could STILL make such a shocking error?

By the time we got in the car to drive back to CVS, I was recovered enough to start documenting the whole thing, “I truly believe God gives me experiences like this so I have fodder for my writing.”

From the outside of the box, I could certainly understand the mistake.

But the back. I can’t even tell you how my sensitive soul reacts to these words, this idea. I mean, praise the Lord we live in a time that products exist like this to help us stay dry, but still.

He eagerly went inside with me and wanted to show me exactly where he found them, “They were way back here in the far corner, come here and see!”

“Wow, what a surprise!!!” I say, sarcastically.

A sense of humor is a must. After 25 years of marriage it’s my go-to response, if I can possibly muster it up.

Happy Anniversary, husband.

Isn’t it fun to do life together?