Tag Archives: Family

A WHOOEE – A WHOOEE

Mama Mick used to say, “When the sh** hits the fan, get off your lazy butt and move.”

I used to just think this was one of her hilarious ways to get people to laugh. She loved to make people laugh – – especially the boys I brought home on a date. Truth be told, they all kept in touch with her long after we broke up. Mostly, because she could tell a joke and make them feel like they were part of her inner circle as they laughed and laughed at her jokes. While I blushed and blushed and cringed at the jokes she would tell (riske doesn’t begin to describe her jokes).

But – the twist on the adage in the first paragraph was a little different. As I have gotten older, I’ve seen the wisdom behind the picture she painted with her words.

“My mama done tol’ me, when I was in pigtails,
My mama done tol’ me,”ūüéĶ

So in June, I got off my lazy butt (moved the fan because who wants a stinky fan anyway?) and did a bunch of things that I’ve just thought about over the past few years including losing weight… oh – boy I get to buy clothes before school starts… because all my shorts and tops are hangin’ where they ain’t supposed to hang.

“A Whooee, A Whooee…”ūüéĶ

‚úĒÔłŹ– Been indulging my artistic side. Writing on some old things that have been sitting on the shelf for more years than I want to think. Written some new poetry. Did some doodling. Created clay sculptures with the Grands. Plucked garden flowers and arranged them where I could look at them often. Pulled out the markers and decorated my new journal.

“Now the rain’s a-fallin’,
hear the train’s a-callin,
“Whooee!”ūüéĶ

‚úĒÔłŹ– Been working the body. Hulled almost another dump truck load of mulch. (The only reason it isn’t done is……“It’s too darn hot, it’s too darn hot…ūüéĶ) Planted a new tree in our rocky, hard, clay dirt (Can you tell I’m whinin’ while I am praying over and watching carefully this new tree since it is late, late, late in Southern season to be plantin’ a tree). Walked the dogs 4-5 times a day and spent lots of time chasing ball (me included when I throw it in the woods) – losing ball (especially in the woods) – arguing over who gets the ball – and panting like crazy with big goofy smiles on all our faces when we come inside. In this heat, none of us stay outside long – not even the cat who generally hates coming in before it is time to eat.

“Whooee!”
(My mama done tol’ me)
A-whooee-ah-whooee ol’ clickety-clack’s a-echoin’ back th’ blues in the night.”ūüéĶ

‚úĒÔłŹ– Painted my bedroom with the help of daughter and family. Then – best of all, created a window seat in this “new” bedroom, hung lace curtains, added a small bookshelf full of my favorite authors/poets, and turned to my dogs and solitary cat said – “It is good”.

The window seat is so small and cozy that I started to wonder if I would really use it or just look at it. Then I looked outside. One of those mysterious summer showers that often seem to come out of nowhere was just starting. I found myself sitting. Sitting in the window seat. Curled up with my teddy bear – my Sefer (Book of Life) by my side, watching the rain and wondering at the “great and mighty things” that He shows me day after day after day.

“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”~Jer 33:3ūüôŹ

I may sing the “blues in the night” at times. Tissue boxes empty as the cat pats my face with her paw. The girls curl at my feet or behind my chair, so I can reach down and pet them when they cry with me. But in the morning — aaaahhh yes — in the morning, the dawn rises – Our Father wakes me up and I hear Him whisper:¬†
“Choose JOY!¬†
For this is the day that I have made just for you.
REJOICE!
BE GLAD!
And surely – goodness and mercy shall follow you all day long – every step – and with every breath – – – -with you – – – –
I AM!
You are my child – created in my image – beloved of the King.”

Can’t get much better than that. After all my Mama Mick done tol’ me long ago:
“A Whooee da whooee, A Whooee da whooee”

[personal images]

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RATIONS 100 DAYS #19

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a GIFT of God, which is shy we call it the present.”~Bill Keane, Family Circus author/cartoonist

Bill Keane got this right on three accounts.
Family is a three-ring circus extravaganza.
Family is a precious gift.
Family is beyond the chains of time.

This week has been a family circus. Crowded dinner tables, laughter over memories, tripping over multiple dogs lying in the exact places where someone wants to walk, Goodwill hunting for school clothes, dreaming dreams through each other’s eyes and finding that circle that ties us all together into that GIFT we call family.

Starting out as an infant, we have a limited concept of family. As we age it grows to include extended family. As we gain knowledge, we recognize it includes those who have come before us and those we hold in our strong arms. As we grow in wisdom, we understand that there is more to family than that physical shape and the name by which they are known.

Like the Creator, who gave us this precious GIFT, family is timeless. It is our history. It is totally a mystery how it will evolve in our future. It is a daily gift of precious love, forgiveness, dancing at sunrise, stretching under the sun, holding hands in the twilight and a reunion beyond compare when the curtain is ripped apart.

“”HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.”~Rev 4:8

FAMILY – Face your family, know thyself, know the precious gift that surrounds you. Today’s RATION – right on again. Can’t tell me that God is not the ultimate author of all things precious. Holy, Holy, Holy…

“I saw…the LORD.~Is 6:1
“I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.”~Is 6:5

“‘Know thyself.’ said a great teacher. To know myself I must have a standard of measurement. It cannot be myself; it cannot be other people; it must be the highest; it must be God. Isaiah faced God and found himself,

“Face God! See your unholy self against the holiness of God. Face all of yourself before God.

“Face your failures! Where do you fail and why? Get rid of alibis.

“Face your success! Bring your plans and amibitions into the prsence of God and test them.

“Face your family! Are those relationships right?

“Face your friends! Do they make or break you?

“Face your foes! Can you face them as Jesus faced Judas and say, ‘Friend?’ Can you love them?

“Face your finance! What story does your bank book tell- – – love of God or of self?

“Face your fears! Why fear? Perfect love satesth out fear.’

“Face your future! Is there anxiety or trust?

“Prayer: O God, I face all that I am before thee. I let thee come to make me what I ought to be. My past, present, and future I commit to thee. Command my strength now. In Christ’s name. Amen.”

QUIET NEW DAY

mountain1How can I not write a few words on this first day of the new year? It was a quiet day. Put all the Christmas stuff away which is unusual since I usually wait until Epiphany to pack away this special time of year. However, 17 days of packing lie ahead, and I need to motivate myself to keep organized. (Let us not forget that I am a day-dreaming, artsy Gemini, so this is not an easy task in the least.)

For those of you who do not know, we bought a house. At least, all parties have agreed in theory, and real estate agents assure us that it is in the process over this holy-day season. It is a repo on a road not far from the daughter and not far from our Covenant Pines. Convenient in so many ways, but a multitude of blessings in so many more. Hard work to come. Dreams to fulfill. Gardens to plant. A gift from Our Father when we didn’t know which way to turn.

I love when Our Father speaks in quiet ways. A nudge here. A breeze that tickles the back of the neck. A whisper that filters through the noise and buries itself in the heart. That is the gift of His holy presence in our lives, and I treasure it whenever I am wise enough to have a clue.

There is much more to this story and more to come in the next few days. For now, I am just rejoicing in the quiet of the day. A bounteous pork supper with the screaming, running Grands, 2 huge labs in hot pursuit, squeak toys leaping from hand to hand as every one jumps on Papa and/or the couch, yawning parents preparing for the next big event – a birthday trip to Disney, and happy, content elders loving family gathered round. Gifts to treasure. Memories to ponder. Love wrapping itself around this new day of the new year and tickling the back of my neck once more.

Blessings!Be! 2016. May the world hear Your whisper and bury Your wisdom at its heart.

17_elija___the_cave“After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave.”~1Kg 19:12-13a

2 of 7: Hope

light-hope_00332387Wasn’t it just Halloween? Suddenly, we’re a whole month past that – past the days of gratitude and into the shortest, darkest days of the year. Just how did that happen? That old adage of “time flies” certainly seems appropriate these days. Wake up in the morning, do half of what was on the day’s list, and before you know it, the yawns signal that it is time for sleep again. Time is hastening by at speeds unknown on this side of heaven. I feel very small at times like these.

“I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant…” Gen 32:10a

It is times like these I understand the word, “humble”. The first Hebrew word in the Bible verse above is “katonti”. It literally means “I am small”, Jacob said these words as he was returning home to re-unite with Esau after 22 years. It was a time of thanksgiving for Jacob. He was hoping for a thanksgiving dinner – a time with the family being all together. I wonder if time seemed like it was flying by for him as well?

During those dark days of travel, Jacob had hope. Hope that his brother had forgiven him. Hope that his gifts would be recieved well. Hope that the family would be together once more. It was the light that filteed through the darkness, lit the path, so that he could keep his feet on the road. Hope.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us‚ÄĒwhatever we ask‚ÄĒwe know that we have what we asked of Him.” 1 Jn 5:14-15

We have Jacob’s hope living in us today. Hope filtering through these dark days in the form of a promise. Hope that our “Brother” will know our name when we walk before our “Father”. Hope that our gifts are recieved well. Hope that there will be a Thanksgiving dinner. Hope that the family will be together once more. This is what the first week of Advent is all about. The 1st of 7 days to concentrate our hope until it forms a point of the Christmas Star.16-shoot-of-jesse2

Attitude of Gratitude #15-21

Precious-Moments-ThanksgivingGratitude #15: Quiet evening. A cold blustery night in NC…33 degrees already…burrrrr…a little “shit-on-the-shingle” (as dad used to call it) over toasted muffin. Christmas music. A new (old) book of poetry published in 1933. Quiet evenings remind us of to stop and think. Meditate on the things that are important – truth – honesty – justice – purity – loveliness – good reports – virtue – praiseworthy… Quiet evenings remind me to be truly thankful. A special poem from that new (old) book of poetry called Thanksgiving, from the 1800’s:

For the days when nothing happens,
For the cares that leave no trace,
For the love of little children,
For each sunny dwelling-place,
For the altars of our fathers,
And the closets where we pray,
Take, O gracious God and Father,
Praises this Thanksgiving Day.

For our harvests safe ingathered,
For our golden store of wheat,
For the bowers and the vinelands,
For the flowers up-springing sweet,
For our coasts from want protected,
For each inlet, river, bay,
By the bounty full and flowing,
Take our praise this joyful day.

For the hours when Heaven is nearest
And the earth-mood does not cling,
For the very gloom oft broken
By our looking for the King,
By our thought that He is coming,
For our courage on the way,
Take, O Friend, unseen eternal,
Praises this Thanksgiving Day.
-Margaret E. Sangstermargaret sangster

And when you offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the LORD, offer it of your own free will. -Leviticus 22:29.  (Google images)

Gratitude #16: Trees. My meditation time is always when I go outside and sit in the warm bubbling water of our Elemental spa tub. I try to quiet my mind – not christmas treean easy task in to say the least – and just focus on prayer and listening. I’m getting better at both – I think…but tonight, I kept getting sidetracked by the falling leaves and puppies running through them. The cold weather has turned our grassy backyard into a crunchy field of browns and golds. While most of the hardwood trees have lost their leaves, the oak holds on to her russet leaves longer. and I watched them dance in early evening breeze a little longer. While I love watching the season bring a visual change in our small forest, I’m thankful for the pine trees and holly bushes that continue to guard my backyard from the neighbors’ vistas and create a private prayer garden even during the deep of mid-winter hibernation. As I came in the kitchen door, I glanced up to see the white ceramic tree that my aunt made for mom and dad so long ago. Mom always kept it out, so I do, too. It’s lights reflect onto the ceiling of the great room in snowlike patters that constantly reminds me of all my family that has gone before me. For me, this is a season of the trees. They know when to be quiet, to sleep, to praise, to grow, to blossom, to rest. I think they listen to Our Father much better than I do, and I’m thankful for their example as I try to learn from them. No wonder the Christmas Tree is such an elemental part of our Savior’s birth celebration. (Google images)

Gratitude #17: Promises. Since I almost fell asleep just a second ago, I figured I better write this quickly. Fatigue is writing a lot of “Zzzzzzz’s” across the front of my brain right now, and I’m sure the antibiotics aren’t helping. I keep thinking of standing-on-the-promises_t_nvMark 9 and the father who had watched his son suffer (whether you believe it was sickness or demons) for years. The disciples couldn’t cure him, so he brought him to Rabbi Yeshua to be healed. The first time the father asked the rabbi he said, “But IF YOU CAN DO ANTHING, take pity on us and help us.‚ÄĚ (Google images)

I like the NIV version because Rabbi Yeshua replies, “‚Äú ‚ÄėIF you can‚Äô?‚ÄĚ I can almost hear the rabbi’s incredulous voice repeating these words back to the father. It is the only version that translates it this way, and it made me smile. I often think that Rabbi Yeshua to wanted to bang his head against the wall when He dealt with us…hmmmmmm…He probably still does.

But what I love is how he finishes this verse. I can just see Him smiling and shaking His head, love wrapping itself around each word, “‚ÄúEverything is possible for one who believes.‚ÄĚ Smart dad – humbled and broken – rephrased his approach,‚ÄúI do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!‚ÄĚ

By that time, I can see Rabbi Yeshua listening but purely focused on the son He crosswas to save. It is those two verses verses – Mk 9:23-24, encircled by all my prayer warriors – both here and in heaven – upon which I’m standing on tonight. “EVERYTHING is possible for one who believes.” “HELP my unbelief.” Even though our faith be small as a mustard seed, His enduring love carries His promise through the years to all of us today. I am thankful for His promises that never fail when we are humble and believe His WORD. (photo by Roma Downey)

Gratitude #18: Roots. I have always been fascinated with trees. There is something about their heighth, breadth and longevity takes my breath away. When I was little, I would dream under their leaves during the summer heat, twist my rope swing into dizzy,erratic rides, and cradle myself in the seat of their roots when reading my favorite book or writing my latest poem or crying over my latest Oak_Tr_328_oakdrama. But…it is the roots that hold the tree to the ground. The roots that carries sustanence. The roots are the strength of the tree. No wonder the tree plays a privotal role in the Bible from Genesis to Revelations. If we become rooted to His WORD and rooted to our FAITH, nothing is impossible. Our Father has promised, and I am thankful my roots have grown stronger seeking Him, deeper through the GRACE of His Son and sustained by the soft voice of the SPIRIT.
‚ÄúBut blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit‚ÄĚ Jer 17:7‚Äď8. (Google images)

Gratitude #19: Family. Long ago when I was sick, my mom would tuck me into her big bed, bring me my favorite comic books or library books, and make me potatoe soup with lots of butter floating on the top. Saltine crackers and ginger ale would accompany this meal, but to this day, I can’t look at a bowl of potatoe soup and be excited about it. Sometimes, a chocolate malt from Zimm’s appeared as a special treat. If I wasn’t too sick, I got to ride in the back of the dry cleaning truck on a bed of blankets while Mom made deliveries around town. That was the best since I usually got a Zimmburger and malt on the way home “for being such a trooper”. Not to be out done, I could always count on Dad for a back rub, a guitar song or a bedtime story. Best of all, my big brother had to be nice to me.

These days when I am sick, my husband cooks food when nothing sounds good…and makes me eat healthy when I probably would eat junk. My kids call to check on me. Best of all, my brother is still nice to me, but this time no one makes him, and I love it. God created families. A safety net that He designed just for us, but more than that, a model that draws us closer to Him. Jesus refers to Him as the Father. He refers to Jesus as His son. Somehow, I think there is a Mother in there as well…we just don’t see it yet. I’m thankful for families when we’re sick, when we’re healthy, when things are crazy. It is a little piece of Heaven right here on earth.

‚ÄĒ feeling blessed.

Gratitude #20: My name. I know – strange topic to be thankful for…maybe kind of self-centered. And yet – one that kept re-surfacing all day today. I’ve always loved my name. In the 50’s, no one else had it. I stood alone in a sea of other baby boomers growing up in a post-war world. I even liked it when Coach Donelson mis-pronounced it during the Jr. Hi Honor Society Assembly in front of the whole world (or it seemed – since all the high school kids and parents were there). When I was little, I asked mom more than once about my name. She said she made up the name, but since she was such a reader, that never made much sense. I figured she heard it, read it, and it stuck in the back of her mind.

Prior to the world of computers, I worked as a page at the Loudonville Library. I found Bryn Marw College listed in a book and then I found a book with names. I still can see that book on the table (Young Adult section, Mrs. Wright sitting at the check-out desk, downtown location) as I found my name in a book. It was Welsh. It meant “hill”. Usually a man’s name. If it had two “n’s”, it was feminine. The sentence they used to clarify the definition was a Biblical one refering to Calgary. Felt like me through and through, so I’ve carried that memory with me ever since.

Jewish tradition says the naming of things is one of the most holy things a parent does. It is one of the first things that God told “man and woman” to do together – name the creatures of the earth. (Gen 2:19) They would then “know” the names of all the other inhabitants of the world. Even from the very beginning, God was modeling exactly what he was doing in Heaven. He told Isaiah: “Behold, I have engraved you upon the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.” (Is 49:16 KJV) I like this translation the best. In other translations, it says “your name”, but I like thinking my whole self is in Our Father’s palm – in Jesus’s scars…then again – prehaps that is why “naming” is so important. Our name reflects the person we are. However, it is…I am thankful. Thankful He knows my name – thankful to be Brynie -Bryn Colette – Ferris Wheel (thanks – Loudonville Class of ’69)- Faerie dust/Ferret (college chums) – Nyrb – MIss Ferris – Mrs. K. – Mrs. Grammie – Mom – Grandma …

Gratitude #21: Magic. This week,Granddaughter asked her mama if magic was real. Brilliant doctoral student mama, stalled. I remember that feeling. How do you answer such a question? Santa? Tooth Fairy? Batman? Elves? Like normal, something like this intriques me, and sends my mind whirling off onto various tangents of thoughts that leads to other thoughts and others… sigh.

Logic tells us that magicdoesn’t really exist. That the only “real” things are what we percieve with our corporeal eyes. It must be written somewhere that “magic” is just a famciful escape from a fatiguing reality. Then we look at our child’s face, and we remember what it felt like to be a child. The “magic” world we saw in our mind was just as real as the world we lived in with adults. Horses could turn into magical people. Fairaes lived in the dark holes at the base of a playground tree. Santa came through non-existent chimneys while his reindeer waited and pawed on the roof. I often think children are smarter than adults are. They see beyond the world that is and into the world that could be —- if they just dreamed and looked for it hard enough. Children – for awhile at least – retain something that adults lose all too quickly. I tend to refer to it in my head as “heavenly magic”. .

Jesus had that heavenly magic even as an adult.. He retained the ability to look beyond this world and into all the worlds that His Father had created. After all, is it so hard to believe that a Creator who coneived of all the wonders that this world holds would not also conceive of worlds upon worlds when reindeer fly – elves make toys – right always wins – and a Son lays down His life for His friend?

Magic is a term we tend to funnel into one narrow tunnel. Maybe – my granddaughter, a budding philosopher, has the answer. As her mama fumbled to form some words into a reply, her daughter answered her own question. “… since God made the trees He must be magic, so magic must be real.” Our world is magical…from towering trees to universes too tiny to be seen with our mortal eyes – and everything in-between. Jesus said: “…Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 18:3 (KIV) I am so thankful that I can still perceive some “magic” in my life everyday. (Artwork by Arkiane)

Faithfulness_by_Akiane

BUT…

I know that a lot of conservative Christians feel that Halloween is not a holiday that needs to be celebrated. ¬†It is pagan in it’s origins. ¬†A time when spirits roam the earth and witches rule the skies. ¬†It celebrates the “darkness” of human life with scary images and horrific ¬†experiences that most of us abhor. ¬†Gravestones. ¬†Boiling pots of magical brew. ¬†Strobe lights that crash the mind. ¬†Eerie music emanating from the night. Webs of deceit that tangle around our body as much as inside our head. ¬†Satanic influences that glorify the ugly sins that happen all too often.

Good reasons one and all.

BUT…

and this is prayerfully submitted…

BUT…

It can also be warm family memories. ¬†Laughter embed with love. ¬†Sweet treats that remind us of special occasions. ¬†Choices exist within choices upon this crazy habitat that Our Father designed just for us. ¬†I’m sure He hoped, like all of us hope for our children, that we would never experience the pain of sin and sorrow. ¬†But…free will allows us to dance around the fires of choice, and all too often we end up getting burnt. ¬†BUT…choice also allows us to decide not to stick our extremities in the fire or dance so close that we burn the things we love.

But…

img822Perhaps because I grew up in the fabled era of the 50’s/60’s…perhaps because I grew up in a small town surrounded by neighbors who acted like extended family…perhaps because horror and fear were an abstract instead of a daily reality…Halloween was more filled with Christ than with the evil one. My¬†Halloweens were filled with a mother who created costumes out of scraps img820(gotta love her choice of costume for me when I was five)…dark runs through many neighborhoods filled with faces that I knew as well as I knew my family’s…contests with my best friends for apples, candy and costumes…family businesses that handed out miniatures bags of whatever they made…pictures boxes of memories filled with family love.

“For I am the LORD your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.”¬†
Isaiah 41:13

There is a story in Jewish tradition that tells about a rabbi who went to eat with a poor man and his wife. ¬†They had nothing to serve the rabbi except some flour. ¬†So the wife went into the woods to find some herbs to enhance the flour that she would serve to the rabbi. ¬†As she picked the herbs and spices that Jehovah-Jireh had designed so long ago, she prayed that they would not only nourish their their rabbi but bless him with all the beauty that was once in the Garden of Eden. ¬†Later in the week, the rabbi’s wife approached the poor woman and begged her for the recipe of the rabbi’s wonderful meal. ¬†The poor woman was stunned. ¬†She explained that she had served him only flour, water and some spices. ¬†The rabbi’s wife was also stunned. ¬†She told the woman that her husband had said it tasted so good that it must of come straight from the Garden of Eden. ¬†At that, the poor woman started to cry. ¬†She remembered her prayer over the herbs that she had gathered that day. ¬†God had heard her prayers and blessed her as much as He had blessed her rabbi.

“Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob,
little Israel, do not fear,
for I myself will help you,‚ÄĚ declares the LORD,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
‚ÄĒ Isaiah 41:14

Halloween can still be the pagan holiday of the past.  Halloween can still offer monsters and scary demons a chance to dance around in all the gory ugliness that this world has to offer. Halloween can still be the pagan holiday that people create over and over again by their everyday choices.  Halloween can still be a time when the evil one rejoices.

img819

BUT…

Like the poor wife, when we pray…….Halloween can also be something made new because Jesus Christ has brought light into the darkness. ¬†It can be another kind of day…another chance for families to gather together and bless the night with LIGHT. ¬†A time when LOVE…that brings the moon out from beyond the clouds…reaches beyond hope…passes beyond understanding…and takes over the darkness that the evil one has spread and warms the chilly air that he has brought with its pagan beginnings.

I, for one, am thankful for Halloween and the wonderful memories I have buried in my heart, and all the new memories I am helping to create in the Grands. ¬†BUT…most of all…I am thankful for Jesus Christ that lightens the darkness of this world with His love and reminds me to keep looking up and praying over everything I do.HALLOWEEN LOVE

 

Alliteration of Thankfulness

Yesterday, my son reminded me that I had not written a blog in awhile. ¬†I justified it in my mind by saying, “School does that to a teacher…pray for my students, make lesson plans, implement plans, correct plans, grade papers, analyze outcomes, research new lessons and pray for sleep, patience and wisdom…” ¬†I feel justified, but sad because I can’t do it all. ¬†However, ¬†swirling around me, remains the glow of thankfulness because of where I stand today. ¬†As my son smiled at me, the full meaning of the day filled me – a simple alliteration of powerful words: ¬†Faith, family, friends.

Leaves cover our driveway and gardens…still. ¬†It would take an army of rakes, sans ornery winds, to keep up with the thousands – dare I say – millions that litter our 35 acres. ¬†The golden hues, bright¬†magentas, rich oranges have faded now into the solidarity of neutral browns and mock my efforts to corral them. ¬† But as I rake the few stragglers my husband missed on the first round of leaf collection, I manage to remind myself to be thankful. ¬†Sore muscles will¬†undoubtedly¬†call for a couple of minutes in the whirlpool tub…such a sacrifice…but well worth it if I can crawl into bed without medication. ¬†“I walk in the garden alone…” becomes “I work in the garden alone…” ¬†Mom’s low alto harmony blends with my daddy’s deeper voice as my mind’s data widgets kick in helping me sing my favorite hymn. ¬†Before I know it, the small memorial garden I built for them and my mother-in-law is clear, and I’m ready for a break. ¬†The fullness of my faith matches the bright sun that warms me. and I am thankful.

I’m one of the lucky ones. ¬†I’ve questioned, argued, yelled, ignored, adored, banged my head, but I have never been tempted to walk away from the faith of my fathers. ¬†Mom loved to tell the story of trying to buy me this little cute lamb for my first Easter, and all I wanted was to play with a plastic crucifix (which by the way, along with the lamb, I still have). ¬† Faith has been my touch stone; it¬†stabilized my chaotic choices and provided some peace when the consequences of choice confronted me. ¬†Faith¬†has a way of transcending the physical world. ¬†It is the chocolate my soul craves as I read my Bible or cry in the darkness of midnight’s trevail.

“Bless this food to our bodies…” I looked up after blessing the food and saw the 60 years of Thanksgiving blessings stretched out in the sun’s rays that shone through our kitchen windows. ¬†Prayers of my father, mother, father-in-law echoed softly in my heart. ¬†Being a wife isn’t always easy. ¬†Compromise, acceptance and commitment are harder than the fairy tales I grew up reading and loving. ¬†Hurt holds hands with hope. ¬†Choices chase complacency. ¬†Yet, this is my journey, and my feet steadily walk the road, waiting for the next curve or bump. ¬†I chose to become a help mate, God blessed it , and I continue to learn more about myself everyday because I left my birth family and became part of a new family.

Yesterday, I watched my son stand by our great room window and remembered all the times I had watched him, his older brother and his sisters, look out that very same window…camping with cousins up in the loft, watching white fluff giving us our first snow day to play, laughing at the dogs running through the yard, ooooing over the big buck picking his way through the woods, playing games in a hospital bed, waiting for ¬†daddy to make it home from his late night at the car dealership, saying prayers before falling asleep wrapped in their special blankets. ¬†I wonder if I shared enough of my faith to help them to make it through the trials that lie ahead.

As a teacher, I had all this book learning on child development, but none of the wisdom of a parent. ¬†At my first inner city school, a¬†wonderful mentor teacher, who was also a mom, helped me learn the difference between knowledge and wisdom. One tidbit from her bank of sayings still sticks in my mind, ¬†“Children of your own and the children of your classroom will teach you more than you ever learned in that college, chile.” ¬† Her smile and silver hair still light up my memory banks as I realize how correct she was. ¬†Being a wife, a parent, a part of a family extended me further than I ever thought I could go just on my own. ¬†Funny. ¬†I have one video of my children on dvd, but I can still hear their young voices any time I want, and I remember what they taught me. ¬† I am thankful for family.

Today, I went into our small town to do my black Friday shopping. ¬†I’m on that bandwagon for shopping locally, but I only made it to three stores because I kept running into my former teachers, high school buddies, friends and acquaintances. ¬†Didn’t do much shopping, probably wasn’t very profitable for the shop owners (who are also friends), laughed a lot, listened even more, and took a lot of time, yet…I loved it…I was thankful for it. ¬†It reminded me why I loved growing up in a small town where “…where everybody knows your name…” ¬†Rare November days, like yesterday and today, shared with friends and family are the warm wraps that walk us through the wonders of winter after the bounty of the harvest.

The more I think about the things I am thankful for, the more things I could continue to add: ¬†food, failures, future, fun…but encompassing those small details are the bigger gifts of the harvest: ¬†friends, family and most of all, faith in My Father and His Son. ¬†Where would I be without them?