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I also, much to my surprise, started to homeschool this year.

Click & peruse my new formed blog, Not A Cog In A Machine, if you too are one of “those type” .

 

“children are not a cog in machine” ~charlotte mason

SNOW ON THE DECK_imperfect prose

 

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THE 50 DEGREE DROP

I am glad I live in the northeast.

The four seasons help me to hold on.

I need change, the looking forward, the planning ahead, the ebb and flow.

Spring has always been my favourite because of the hope of the promise.

The tilt of the earth is once again pointing in our favour.

April 13th saw favour in the form of 80 degrees and blue, blue skies.

In the form of grass green after six months of brown,

Sanguine yellow daffodils instead of piles of stubborn gray snow piles,

Flips flop and twirly cotton skirts instead of wool socks and cable knit tights.

The Babe insisted we bring out “her pool” and poke around in the attic for last year’s swimsuit.

After Sunday service and Sunday lunch I camped out on the deck with a new book and a couple Coronas with lime.

Then, April 16th cracked opened at 6:30am this morning with crusty snow and my daughter calling she wants to get picked up from her friend’s house because she feels like she is going to throw up.

But the sun was still shining with her powerful smile and I tried to keep my chin up as I stumble for my starbucks waiting in the pot.

After all, the earth is still pointed in our favour.

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The Christian walk is surely not “all sunshine and roses”, as they say.

Some days you are soaking up sun with a good book and yummy beverages and everyone around is in a GOOD MOOD.

Then, like some sort of sneaky menace something shifts in the unknown stratosphere:

and your deck is covered in snow,

the kitty pool is frozen in muddy flecked ice,

and all the daffodils are drooping in apparent melancholy:

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But we are still the favoured people.

Not because of the situation,

not even because we know “things will eventually get better”

But what is in us.

What has happened.

Christ is in us because the ugliest of the most ugly, the darkest of the most dark can no longer define us, take us over.

It comes and toys with us,

it overwhelms us,

it even pulls us into a slimy pit from time to time.

The worst part is that sometimes we let it in, we cause it.

And that is downright depressing-

An ugly ghetto cheap plastic pool covered in ice and mud in a back yard filled with broken stuff and old toys and hardly any living grass-

kind of depressing.

That view does not define us though.

Maybe that is view we look out and see.

The view that we are afraid the neighbors see and judge.

But it’s what is going on in the inside our home that make this family, us.

Inside is an imperfect family who loves and laughs and learns a lot.

Inside of the believer is Christ, our champion,

the lifter of our heads,

the healer,

the restorer,

the tearer of the curtain that once divided and left us grasping in the dark.

I read in First Peter chapter 1 this morning that:

we “are begotten to a lively hope” and given “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by power of God through faith”. {verses 3,4,&5}

Those perfect Sunday afternoons on the deck are not where we live, is it?

But we don’t live in the dirty busted down back yard either.

We live in Christ,

in season and out of season.

We don’t have to vacate, fly  there to there looking for that perfect sunny location.

Leave that for the birds.

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We have the one who cries:

“how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings” Luke 13:34

Linking up with Emily Wierenga over at Imperfect Prose.

Her post today was awesome, it usually is.  Even if you don’t  do the link up thing, chances are if you are here you write and you are a mother, her post today will encourage you.

Cheers.

 

PAINT_five minute friday

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What Is Soon To Come…Pom-poms Of Color Like A Paintbrush Stroke on Each Branch

Spring has sprung.

I have the blisters on my thumbs and the pink tinge of sunburn on my nose and cheeks to prove it.

That magical cocktail or warm air, blue skies, and daffodil spikes poking through the dirt was all mine yesterday.

The drink I wait all winter long to gulp down.

It’s the colors.

That is what gets me.

Right around March when clean white snow vacates and brown on brown with a little extra dab of brown stretches out wherever the eye looks, I start to feel the drabness seep into me.

Then when the robins come back from their southern vacation,

when the wood stove gets draped over in a spare quilt in our living room for another six month,

the colors start to slowly fill back in.

I picture it like great big vats of paint buried deep beneath the ground.

It fills up with leached Autumn colors and waits all winter underfoot.

When the time is right it squeezes back up, a dollop at a time-

on corpse stalks of grass on my lawn

on sad gardens thick with decomposing wet leaves and bits of winter litter

on naked tree branches gray and waiting.

Yesterday I raked with a vengeance our tiny front lawn.

It’s like giving it a facial.

A deep exfoliate.

The dead ends get hacked, the subtle green emerges.

Four wheelbarrows filled up with last October’s leaves lets my gardens, poking with verdant green like casually drops of paint, breath and come to life.

I am not much of an artist-in that paintbrush canvas professional way.

But to me, the canvas of flowers, resurrected grass, swollen buds, is art at its finest.

They say even Michelangelo had several assistants while painting the Sistene Chapel.

Humble day labors perhaps who provided just an extra hand here, assisted in peeling this, or mixing that there.

I bet they were happy for their day’s pay while they toiled beside a master with his masterpiece.

That’s me when I get dirty and sweaty, mucking around in the gardens.

Spring in nature is The Master’s masterpiece to me.

My girls want to paint their bedrooms this weekend, coincidentally; have been trying to plan it for awhile, but something always comes up. {usually lack of money and/or gumption}

They are grumbling louder and louder about this weekend.

But it”s gonna be in the 70s and I can already smell the mulch!

So I am going to say “NO”.

Mom needs to paint too.

And I don’t feel one bit guilty about it, because as much as we give, we need to be filled up too.

I’ll probably just bribe them with ice cream.

P3150060

Stop.

Linking up yet again with wonderful group of blog writers over at Lisa Jo Baker’s place for Five Minute Friday.

Cheers.

 

WRITER_five minute friday

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TO BE A WRITER IS TO HAVE A SURE STRAIGHT SINGLENESS OF MIND TO SIMPLY WRITE

I write not in the fringe times.

I write in the once in a great while times.

Not here.

Not my blog writer cap.

My my other cap-

what do I call it?

Real writer?

Novelist?

That hat does not fit so easy.

That hat seldom gets put on.

I write uninterrupted a few hours at time as a story pours from me.

This story, a work of fiction, much to my surprise, whose opening scene came to me in a quick-sliver flash as I sat by wood stove warmth last winter, I immediately scribbled down; once I could find a sharpened pencil and my writing journal, of course. Fourteen months later this story drips from me in surprising bursts.  I never, ever, plan what I am going to write. I simply sit at a blank screen and write. But every time this part fantasy, part allegory, with characters flowering from my own family, comes forth, like a stumbled upon underground spring.

These times are kinda scheduled, but pretty seldom

Like evenings with long bubble baths, chocolate. and good book

Like making love in the middle day.

It’s great when it happens, but nothing you better get used to, nothing you should expect daily.

I have gone months without this type of writer hat.

I have sometimes read my last entry, actually surprised, having completely forgotten what I typed and saved on my white mac book, as if I am a first time reader not the writer, because it has been so long!

I think part of my long absences of this very cathartic, and wonderful experience of writing is because it takes Total Concentration.

I do just about everything with a halved or quarter brain.

It is almost impossible to write at home- where multitasking comes as naturally and is a necessary as breathing.

When I get up extra early I feel like I should pray, read The Word, make home made bread.

Since my first hat is wife/mother and to that well I need supernatural power, wisdom, grace.

Since I announced our family is no longer going to eat store sliced bread, and the fresh bakery bread is awesome but really expensive.

Writing seems very indulgent.

Even here in this space, whose entries I have noticed are getting more spaced out all the time.

Writing a fictional story, that very possibly, if not probable, will  never be bound published book, is more than indulgent, if feels foolish.

But I continue.

When the stolen hours manifest, I edit, edit and if there is time, then the story comes out.

If you are called to write, it is gift.

All gifts, including writing, come from God.

If He has given, He will produce.

Produce the product, produce the writer.

And like all fruit from above- it is slow, unexpected, surprisingly good.

It changes you.

Stop.

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WRITERS TOIL. LIKE A GARDENER. FILL THE FRUIT OF YOUR HARVEST COMES.

Linking up today with Lisa Jo Baker for another five minute Friday with all the varied WRITERS, from all over the country, from so many different walks of life, experiences, and styles.

Who simply write.

Click to join in or read in.

Cheers.

 

24 hours in a hotel 20 miles away…

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But to me it was a big deal.

And like I always do, big deals that promise be large blessings, morph into a huge burden.

It was called Raising Generations Today. A Friday to Saturday overnight at a nice hotel amazingly the next town over. With Christian speakers, many who were fellow bloggers, some local and wonderful, some “big names” in the blog world of writers I greatly admire, speaking about motherhood and Christ.

So why the stress?

Why the heavy sighs with dark grumbles: “I should of never booked to go” that increase with vehemence as the date draws near?

Well, several annoying things happened, because life is filled with annoyance, but mostly because I over-think things.  I over-think because I am desperately insecure.

I am beginning to understand we all are, really, and that helps.

Even though The Truth of the Bible resonates deep and real with me, sometimes an unexpected source of truth and comfort lands on my lap. This time round it was my checked out library book; neglected for three weeks and buried away forgotten in the library basket under a pile of Bailey Kids chapter books and Lady Bug Girl picture books.

The book title:

Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain.

This post is not a summation of this book.  You can check out the link if your interest is piqued.

I will say that this highly researched and secular book was beyond a shadow of a doubt, a gift poured from heaven, just when I needed it.

You see, I was slowly getting filled with worry and anxiety that I may end up going alone to this conference since the two friends who were going to go could not make it.  These women events are always filled with mobs of close friends and seemingly ridiculously happy groups aren’t they?  Like the flocks of over-hair-sprayed and lipsticked chummy girls that wound its way through your high school halls and descended in one giggling, whispering accord into the girls bathroom.  It is not that I was even excluded in school, I simple did not fit. I puzzled over myself for really, not wanting to fit, yet felt the pang that said

“jeeze, they all seem to be so much happier than me”.

And so, a thick, careful, if not always conscious, layer of hardening began to be self applied.

It looks a lot like confidence and independence.

Like snobbery and “nerdery”.

And in some ways it is.

In some ways it in my very DNA to be so.

And yet.

It always came with an ache.

Long story short: this book, after only a single chapter completely validated and liberated my conflicted self image dilemma that over the years has morphed into a scary monster than only comes out of its closet on dark, dark days.

Long story short: my sister *surprised the tuna salad out of me* by agreeing to come last second because she miraculously had the weekend free. {She has seven children and is not a spur of the moment kinda girl, and never, never has a weekend free}.

Long story short:  the message, set like a secret code set on repeat all weekend was:

you are not alone…

every one feels like you…

everyone is scared,

overwhelmed,

lonely,

uncertain,

and feeling guilty about it, on top of the other 77  things we feel bad about on any given day…

And yet.

We have this HOPE in Christ

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TEMPORARY BIBLE TATS: just some of the goodies given at the retreat. it is a great way for overly conservative people to feel cool and edgy!

our anchor,

our forerunner,

our high priest.

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We have each other if we only ask, if we only will slow down and decide to deliberately listen and make time for others

to anchor us

to run with us

the intercede with us

Because He is in us, and isn’t that something?

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So thankful for the sweet, tiny September McCarthy with a giant heart and ferocious passion, who I know prayed long, holy prayers over this event because His presence was strong.

So thankful for the obedient, Spirit-led, genuine, Lisa Jo Baker who flew in and was the event’s other keynote speaker.

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Does’t she look happy! Lisa Jo, i am sorry i took a picture of you unawares like a creepy stalker!

24 hours in a hotel 20 miles away is not that glamorous or exciting but when God shows up with a story to tell I think it is about as good as this life can get.

 

Linking up for the first time with the writing group:

#Tell His Story with Jennifer Dukes Lee.

Click to join or be inspired by others simply telling His story.

Cheers.

* the expression “surprised the tuna salad out of me” is not my own, though I wish it were. I just use it ever so often, it’s especially fun to text.   It belongs to Mo Williams, writer of the hilarious children’s “Pigeon” Series.

 

 

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ANOTHER BIBLE TATTOO. i promise i am not naked, it just looks that way

CHARITY_imperfect prose

A HELPING HAND?

A HELPING HAND?

It was hot.

It was the middle of a long, not so good, Summer for me.

And I was way out of my comfort zone.

A month prior I had heard about a program called “picnics in the park” hosted by our local Food Bank.

The concept was simple and perfect: every weekday the Food Bank van would make stops at about a half dozen of our cities local parks.  It would deliver a lunch sack and cold water to any one who wanted one.  Adult or child.  Poverty and hunger watchdogs have long voiced that during the Summer months at risk children will often go without regular meals due to no school, that is to say, no provided school meals.  Our local food bank wanted to help.

I wanted to help.

This pass Summer was a real premier Summer for our household in that I signed my four children up for Summer Cohesion. I was not in a good place last Summer, and well, kinda desperate.  So I swallowed my pride, and did the “Summer day care thing”.

On Fridays I would pick my four girls up, flaming red-cheeked, sweaty, and tired to then dash across town to a park in the bad part of town.  I will never forget my first experience of doing charity outreach that did not involve a church basement and carefully planned Bible lessons.  I of course, in true Leah-fashoin, was running late, parked in the wrong place, and swearing under my breath because of it, while telling my whining four daughters ages 4- 11 to “be quiet, I don’t care if you don’t wanna be here”.

We arrived like a flock of pale scattered birds.

I sent my four to go play at the playground, that in the 2 O’clock baking sun, had a metal slide too hot to slide down, and rubber swings that were also hot to the touch and smelled of burning tires.  They came slinking back like stray pups within two minutes.  At least I had those two minutes to introduce myself and get my instructions on how “picnics in the park” was gonna work.  A very simple set up.  They put me in charge of pouring water out of an over-sized orange and white Gatorade sports thermos into the smallest dixi paper cups I have ever seen.

Still feeling awkward.

Still eying my sweating, grumpy, children who stood there mute, gaping, and untidy three feet to my left. { I turned down the coordinator’s offer to let my girls help themselves to a free lunch sack}.

Without any signal people began to line up.  Silently.  Babies fussed in  strollers and on Mama hips.  Some children pushed and yelled playfully.  The adults were all silent though.  The volunteers were all silent.  I think at this point the project leader said a few things; that were more like shouted out instructions. There was mention that because of legality issues the lunches could NOT be carried home, but must be eaten on the premises.

And then we began to serve.

No one made eye contact.  The wilting heat, and crush of people, had slowed everyone’s movements and gait to a slow shuffle.  Except the kids and babies.  I tried to make eye contact with down-cast eyes that muttered whether they wanted a ham sandwich or a hot dog.  If they wanted their orange whole or quartered.  In a flash I had a sudden picture.  Now I read a lot of historic novels, so bear with me:

I just thought of those long, long food lines in Soviet Russia after Stalin took over.  The people would wait in long lines, in bitter cold often, seeing as it was Russia, waiting their government issued food ration.  It was supposed to be the glorious start to a new society that was to rid the nation of poverty and want.  I am sure many were hopeful, many grateful.  But there was no dignity in it.

Please understand me, I know next to nothing about Communist Russia. That image stemmed from a historic novel I had read that Summer title Russian Winter.  But as a writer, stories, and descriptions always stick, and resurface at the oddest times.

Nor am I attempting to make some sort of political social statement about how Soviet Communism is akin to American social welfare.

Not even close enough smart, or motivated for such nonsense.

However, right at that moment, in that sticky humidity and that sudden frigid mental image, I made a simple decision:

I was gonna smile and make small talk.

I told the Moms their kids were cute.

I said those hokey, predictable small talk lines, I am absolutely no good at, like:

“Can you believe how hot it is”

“I sure hope this weather breaks soon”

“Thank God for A/C, right?”

I called the kids “honey”.

I made sarcastic jokes with the men that ” I hope you can drink all the water in these huge cups we have!”

Say what you will about “people who are milking it off the system by us who work” and God knows there are a lot of those.

There is no pride in it.

I still believe at the end of the day, human beings want to be proud of themselves.

I knew nothing about these people, they knew nothing about me, except for one thing: They were the takers right now, and I was giving.

Recipient and Judge

Our parts were cast. We were people who lived in the same city, but planets apart is some ways,  who now are sharing the same space and exchanging a few words at a baking hot city park.

Eight months later I felt the sharp sting when those social table were suddenly turned.

It was about three weeks ago.

As uncomfortable hot as July was, so bitterly miserable our winter became.

School was cancelled more for windchill conditions than snowfall, time and time again in January and February.  Early March showed no improvement.

A biting wind found every inch not smothered in wool or stuffing as I waited at the bus stop for my five and seven year old daughters.  At last, the big yellow bus was spotted down the street.  I did mini hops to keep warm, standing in one spot, as I waited for the lights to flash, the stop sign to pop out, streaming traffic to halt, and kids to bound out when the mechanical door swung open.

I noticed right away.

My littlest, only in Pre-K, was not wearing her regular winter coat I send her out in every morning.  She tore down the steep bus steps and ran wild down the side walk, like she always does, in a shiny, brand new looking green puffy coat.  The iridescent , Columbia-brand, look-alike type.  I instantly assumed she must of spilled, ripped, or bled upon her own, and waited for “the story”. But she told me another, confusing tale instead.

“The nurse just gave it to me”

“What?  Why!”

She became mesmerized by something exciting like a brown leaf and dances away from me.  But I want answers.  Distancing myself from the other mothers who I don’t want hearing the rest of our conversation, I grab her arm, and get face to face so I she can hear me good and clear. I  ply her with more questions.

“Why did the school nurse give you this coat honey?  Did something happen to yours?”

She looks up confused, like,

“what is your problem Mom?” and replies,

“It’s my button.  It’s missing.  She just said: ‘Here honey looks like this is getting too small’  “.

Horror washes over me.  High school shame for not having the right outfit, was nothing compared to this.

Dear God in heaven we are the charity family!

That is all I could of think of.  Well, for the first 8 seconds.  Then came the usual anger, that I always replace with guilt with a magician’s slight- of- hand speed.

“Who do those school teachers think they are!”

“Don’t those morons know a good family, from the scummy families?”

“My kids get good grades…have manners…I pack them organic lunches every freaking day instead of the free government handout shit lunches most moms let their kids eat!”

“I do not need their charity!”

Yes.  These were the sentences yelling; some in my head, some out my mouth as I stomped the two blocks back to our respectable, neat, two-story, suburban house.

Above the loud, was the quiet hot presence of shame.

At home I ripped open her backpack and pulled out her very nice brown twill coat I got on clearance at TJMaxx the year before; stowing it in the attic for six months on purpose.  It was one of those old-fashioned looking pea coat.  Something that Samantha, the Victorian American Girl Doll, might don.   I hate those sporty, puffy, synthetic coats, that most kid department stores carry, almost exclusively.  It’s why I shop off-season clearance at TJMaxx.

Examining it closely, with the phantom critical eye of a school official peering over my shoulder, I noted with a sting that is was not missing one button, but two.  The beautiful twill, that keeps the weather out better than synthetic materials I am positive, was looking a little…shabby.  Covered in those stiff nubs like when the bathroom towels start to wear thin. I made my very confused daughter put the coat on.  With fresh eyes I noted how it does not go all the way down to her wrist anymore, like it did in late fall.

I felt like a bad mom.

Worse.  I felt like my kids were the charity kids.  Maybe not worse.  Maybe synonymous: bad mom/charity kids.

I cried at the dining room table over burritos, explaining it to my nodding husband, my bugged-eyed, silent kids.  There was even a neighbor kid having dinner with us, to spice things up.  My rational  and very private husband is willing and pleading me with his eyes to shut up, as I blab on and on about “judging society”  “government school programs” and “stupid stereotypes”

I had drank a little too much wine.

Later that evening, when the wine wore off,  I had calmed down, my husband, who works at a public school,  explained for the eighteenth time that the elementary teachers and staff did not think I was a “piece of crap Mom” but more than likely had an excess of coats and wanted to simply help. It was then that I remembered, with a gut jolt, the experience I had at “Picnics in the Park” this pass Summer.  How I felt sorry for those people lining up in the silent charity line, but did not necessarily want to feel sorry, just help, without belittling.

Yet when my pride was stung, I did exactly that.  Belittle and judge, all those “charity cases”.  I was sickened to be counted among them.  I feel more shame now, not for the missing button, shabby, too short in the arm coat, but for my spiteful words like “scummy families, charity cases, and moron teachers”.

So, the tables had turned as sharply as the seasons.

It didn’t feel good being on the receiving end.

Those same parts were cast.

Recipient.  Judge.

This Winter with the coat, same as that Summer with the lunches,  I did not know what to do, or feel.

I still don’t now.  I just know that Matthew 25 has been stalking me.

The parable of Jesus telling those He separates to the the left and those to the right based solely how we chose to act upon in love towards “the least” has nothing to do with abstract theology,  but practical action.

I can say now I am thankful for the “charity coat experience”.

I am glad I felt the sting of being judged, whether in reality, or in my mind. It wounds and lays you down low just the same.

I hope this little trifle of an experience, because that is all it really was {despite my dramatic display of crying and swearing} compared to how many, many others suffer from judgement  need, at the very least gave me empathy.

Empathy without compassion will always just be cold charity.

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Linking up with the wonderful Emily Wierenga with her Imperfect Prose gang.

Come read and /or contribute your own story.

Cheers.

CROWD_five minute friday

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When people say “the  masses” it is usually a derogatory thing.

I have heard it said:

“a person is smart, but people are dumb”

I am usually inclined to agree.

But then I am very cynical.

After all, I live in upstate New York and roll my eyes and my sarcastic tongue starts wagging, as time and time again, I witness the panic that overcomes the crowds when another winter storm ‘NorEaster is going to hit and every one, in one accord it seems, strips the grocery shelves of milk, bread, soda, and beer {the four major food groups}.

The terrible frenzy that whips up, unsettles and causes otherwise peaceable individuals, when joined with say a one thousand others who share their political, social views, to do evil.

But, what about “the people of the way”: The term used for converts to Christianity in the first Century?

I was reading Joel chapter 2 yesterday and an image struck me, something I cannot recall every reading before, and scratching my writing brain with this morning’s prompt, it surfaced again:

They shall run like mighty men

They shall climb the wall like men of war

And they shall march every one on his ways and they shall not break their ranks

Neither shall they thrust one another

They shall walk everyone in his path

And when they fall upon the sword they shall not be wounded

This is a picture of God’s people in tough times.

Times where there should be weeping.

Times when only a “remnant” remain and evil is approaching fast and hard.

Solidarity.

To me, this is the perfect picture of solidarity.

Not breaking ranks, even as you follow your own path.

No thrusting of swords, or elbows, or jabbing of barbed- tongue judgements.

The marching crowd of The Lord’s people,

“the Bride come out of the closet to meet the Bridegroom”

as it says eight verses later,

has Her eyes set on one thing, and one thing only…

Their jealous God {vs 18}

Who is gracious and merciful and slow to anger, of great kindness

The bearer of

wine, oil, corn

to gladden

to restore

to bring joy.

With our eyes and hearts set upon such a God as this, we can certainly rise above that “crowd mentality” of panic, greed, envy, and harm,

can we not?

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Stop.

Linking up today this March morning that can’t decide if it is going to be Winter or Spring with

Lisa Jo Baker and about a hundred other writers at Five Minute Friday.

Its been a nearly a month since I posted here, and it feel goods to get the cobwebs and dust bunnies shaken off.

Cheers.

light through a crack_ shadow shot sunday

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this, the shortest of months

is the darkest of months

but into the dark a little light will shine

a reprieve of bitter when i awake to optimistic sunshine

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february sun most often brightens the eye but fails to warm the head

but sometimes, only sometimes, it spreads and fills the house, fills myself, in warmth like a wool hat on my head

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i long to feel this distant furnace poised in the outside sky for myself

but dust that piles & bedrooms stale, beckon me, knowing they will be cleaned only by myself

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it is the only mama, and oh, how at first she complains and laments the task is hers alone

who scrubs, makes domestic war, and airs out- but the pleasure of it slowly fills her, like the sun, on her alone

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light pours and pours on rooms familiar, objects dear,

dust dances in brokah shots, but i think it rather adds, seems to endear

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dirty finger- smudged glass reveal winter clouds are gathering up again

the sun, that fleeting winter furnace in the sky, disappears for good, but I know it will return again

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and the hope of it rises-stubborn as passing time

knowing each day it marches closer, stronger in its stride to spring time

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and i feel it, it bursts out slivers of powerful comfort…

Like Light Through A Crack

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Linking up with the international photographers at Shadow Shot Sunday 2, after a long, long absence.

Photography and prose makes me slow down, notice, and be thankful in that simple way.

And that is a good thing.

You should look in or join in because we could all use some more good things.

Cheers.

K.I.S.B…keep it simple baby_imperfect prose

brown Italian mushrooms sitting in the sun to soak up Vit. D

brown Italian mushrooms sitting in the sun to soak up Vit. D

These last couple of weeks I have been under going an endeavor I call ” clean eating”.

It basically means I want my family, and myself, to consume only that which has not been “messed around with”.

That means cutting out:

the processed

anything that has the words “enriched” or “hydrognized”

no xtra-bold Cheez-it cheddar crackers,

that awesome deli ham we all love,

no granola bars…even the “low fat” &  “made with whole granola” kind, that has the Quaker Oats guy waving at you from a glossy box.

Now, I consider myself a person above fads. My grabbing a hold of this clean eating thing has been a long, long process of realizing we kinda need good food to feel good-

but what is good?

And right there, in that three-word question:     what is good?

 the zealots will start to rise up out of the midst like some horror movie zombie…they are coming for you!…don’t stare too long or you will become one of them!

{note if you come across a health site or an article claiming breaking news about the  “real truth” … and they use an excessive amount of CAPS AND !!!!, you probably should just stop reading.

JUST STOP READING I SAY!!!

Yet, I also like to think that I am one of those analytical, good decision making women-

with an appetite for learning and finding the truth.

It has been a slow  journey for me, starting ten years ago when I started to have some “feminine” problems and after going on several expensive prescriptions, that at the time our insurance did not cover in the least, that we could not afford in the least, that did not work in the least, when I happened to chance upon a natural remedy book at a rummage sale, and for two bucks my world changed.

Getting back to simple,

believing that when Creator God said:

“It Is Good” He meant it when it comes to our food.

But something has happened, hasn’t it?

We have gotten away from the simple-

living close to the source as they say.

Can the age old question of:

What is good?

be answered in the word simple.

Keep. It. Simple. Baby.

Eating clean, organic, all natural, does not guarantee perfect health forever.

Likewise,

splurging on delivery pizza and ice cream because delivery pizza and ice cream are awesome, obviously, will not mean a reversal of our hitherto good health.

My head spinning, my eyes squinting, at the microscopic-sized printed ingredients list they hide on food packages, and trying to decide under florescent light with EZ listening music playing above my head as I decided between organic, no-GMOs, and all natural, I wonder if all this is really worth it.

I decide it is.

Later, escaping the labyrinth of grocery store aisles, I can’t help but see an obvious spiritual correlation between our food endeavor and our religion endeavor.

Keep. It. Simple. Baby.

Jesus was simple,

Love God with everything and then other people;

all the laws of the prophets are summed up in these…all the laws...have you ever read Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy?

There is a whole lot there.

A lot of perfectly- formed law fodder for The Body to analyze with a magnifying glass, to then argue till the cows come home about “my interpretation”.

But “my interpretation” flows through a sieve of self first.

Just like with food that has been declared “good” by God, we should live close to the source, everything else gets watered down, messed around and does much harm over the years.

Can we be simple enough to live close to our God-source, Jesus?

Can we be honest enough that we, because we are NOT good, like the watered down, like the messed around, like the conveniently listed rules, so then we can contrast and compare.

I have never witnessed a debate that actually changed someone’s mind.

Ever.

And I grew up in family that loves to debate.  I like to. But lately, I am seeing the foolishness of it. 

I am seeing a forests of planks in glazed eyes.

Creeds, Apologetics, Social Conservatism, or learning the original Greek does not save.

It does not even sanctify.

And yet.

You can’t keep eating drive through-food and calling Mountain Dew breakfast and expect to feel good.

You can’t choose willful ignorance of what the Bible says is good and then try to devise what is good.

What is a thinking Christian to do?

Keep. It. Simple. Baby.

Because when you just train your eyes to simply look at the man on cross-

an ugly, broken, mess, yet so beautiful

making me, an ugly, broken, mess, beautiful

something slowly, something simple, starts to happen:

you stop caring about always being right and you just start caring.

Caring about all those broken, ugly, messes who are not so different from you;

they just have not come to understand  Who The True Beautiful One is yet.

And for those “who have eyes to see”, do they see The Beautiful Righteousness One in you, or do they see your own self righteousness, that is never, all that pretty.

Linking up a tad late with the Beautiful Crowd at Imperfect Prose, hosted by the Beautiful Blogger Emily Wierenga.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACheers.

GARDEN_five mintue friday

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“first world problem”

That is what keeps circling in the whirling space between my ears as I sit in a softly lit Wegmans super-market cafe with my seven and five year old, decked out in pink and red donned special for their classroom Valentine’s Party today.

Because…

there was a two-hour delay from a snowstorm last night…

that I did not know about…

that I assumed was a full day cancellation, when I pulled into the eerily empty and quiet school parking lot at 8:30 this morning…

meaning no Valentine’s Parties at school….

and so…

we stopped at the awesome Wegmans supermarket a half block over to get donuts to compensate their tragic losses….

but then…

I run into my aunt and explaining our dilemma, a mother, likewise with two children in tow, pipes up behind me and says…

“oh school’s not cancelled, it’s just a two-hour delay”…

in which, my graceful respond to this mother trying to be helpful is…

“well that makes it even MORE annoying”…

which produces another dilemma….

{now that my daughters, already clutching their donuts fresh from the bakery, mouths watering, know full well that their beloved Valentines Party is back on}

do I…

a} camp out at the sprawling cafe with a chia latte..soy…with a sprinkle of nutmeg…hold the whip cream please…while I read food magazines and the girls giggle and eat and slurp and look through valentine-themed books that we will not be buying, just borrowing to put back on the display shelf later

or do I…

b} drive the ten minutes home in my heated van with new snow tires, so the girls can watch netflix for an hour and then get back in my heated van and take them back to school where they will have more food and fun

I am going to be honest here…

I was pretty pissed off…

weighing my options, sipping my chia latte…

that, by the way, since I did not have cash on me I paid with the swipe of my debit card, if by the way, there is not enough money in there to pay with, will be taken care of by our over-draft protection that will pull it from another source of funds we have at our disposal for only a slight fee that will cost me less than my latte…

” my first world problem/my first world luxuries”

It could not of been more clear.

More than a pithy, humanitarian facebook statement to share and “like”.

Surrounded by literally mountains of food, toiled over and shipped out by humans I don’t know, and sitting in warm, softly lit luxury, I was incredulously thinking:

“why me”?

The dear Lisa Jo Baker raised in Africa as a child is dreaming something big, from a heart that has grown big, by the large love of The Savior.

It is starting with A Garden, cuz doesn’t it always come down to food?

Taste and see that The Lord is good, the Book says.

I think if we really want to dig our teeth down deep and enjoy Our Lord in that deep, satisfying, guttural, way; we simply share our great abundance with those without.

Its Valentine’s Day, after all.

Who was it who said?:

“love isn’t love till you give it away”     {could be Francis of Assisi or possibly Bono or Lincoln Brewster, not sure}

A Garden.

Cuz it always starts with food.

Linking up with Lisa Jo Baker and the other writing lovelies at Five Minute Friday for a special opportunity that is all about love this Valentine’s Day.

shelly2{ i took and edited that photo!! can you believe it??}

Cheers.

CLOISTERED_imperfect prose

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGetting out of bed has become a harder and harder chore.

The winter wall of lethargy is upon us all.

The negative degree weather each morning does not help matters. When I do reluctantly get up, propelled by the all too well known knowledge that I am one grumpy son of a gun if I do not get hot coffee, drank in silence, alone with God, before my four daughters stumble downstairs.

And when I do get up and have that coffee cupped in my hands, those scant pre-daughter minutes, I just sit.

I don’t want to unfurl out of my careful cocoon ball of quilt and pillow in my chair.

Don’t want to stop the flow of mug in hand, Starbucks down throat, long enough to grab pen and journal to list.

For that same reason I have not even been willing to leave my pocket to open my Bible.

However, these cloistered mornings of fighting cold in breaking light are not without merit.

For when I finally muster the strength of mind to stop the whir of random, daydream-y, and/or distracting thoughts and then purposely gauge brain and spirit toward heaven,

I’ve been praying: deep and hard.

Pressing in till I reach it: Heaven’s will.

The Spirit Himself interceding and speaking, so aware it is not just I, lobbing up requests and concerns to this mysterious God I was taught to pray to.

Rather, I enter into this “cord of strings”.

I remain tethered to Earth

God sits on His high throne, with His Abba ear bent low

and Jesus and The Holy Ghost relay as the harmonious Go-Between as only They can

I am part of it.

I am covered in it.

Standing in the gap, not because I can change the will of Heaven, having figured out the code to tap into the right power, but because Heaven’s will is that I, their daughter, have an invitation to labor along side.

The listing and counting of gifts, the reading and meditating of Scripture, is Holy participation too, and this I do.  Some days all three, some days two out of three.

But sometimes the living room is still too cold, and that warm coffee is feeling like a magic elixir, and I stay cloistered and just pray.

Linking up with such beautiful ones at: Emily Wierenga’s blog pad for Imperfect Prose

this cold, but sunny, Wednesday morning.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACheers.

Cheers.