December 31, 2012

2012 Recap - Highlighting some Favorite Posts

Happy New Year's Eve!  Can you even believe that 2012 is nearly over and done with (and many would say a hearty Good Riddance and Amen!) and 2013 is literally just hours away now!

Several fellow Bloggers took today to reflect back over their year and their blog and highlight some of the posts that meant the most to them - or their readers... and I thought I would follow suit! (Thank you Lindsey for the inspiration!)

January 2012 started out much the way it has for several years, with me setting aside some time to pray and ask the Lord for a Prophetic Word for the year... you can read that HERE and see if it rings true in your own life, over your own 2012!

In February, I found the Lord romancing me and I shared my heart about wanting to Look right at Him and then in March I wrote a post about how His Furious Love overwhelms every 'less than'!

Then, on this blog as well as on my other, life got hard and in all reality - it was hard to keep myself from drowning... writing and creating got pushed to the back as healing and restoring was taking most of my time!

In July, going through The Inspired Life with Michelle Perry, I posted about Spiritual Geography.  This online 'class' was a lifeline for me at a time that I NEEDED it most!

In September I posted about how I discovered I had been Standing in my own way, and I also joined Emily at Chatting at the Sky in writing a Dear Me letter to my teenage self!

October I participated on #31 Days and posted on Fall and loved every one -which you can read HERE, or a few of my favorites here: Five Minute Friday: Race, Day Reason 26, and Day Reason 31.

In November I blogged about Leaving a Mark - a Legacy of Love, as well as another FMF post: Stay.

Here we are in December, and a few highlighted posts involve See-Through Christmas Trees & Searching for Identity (Tuesdays Unwrapped), I guest posted at Kimberly Coyle's Find Time for Tea HERE.  I asked if it was feeling like Christmas, and lastly, a challenge if Ponder with Purpose over 2012!

So - that brings us up to date and I hope to have a new Word for 2013 to post within the next few days!

What about you? What are you hearing for 2013?  What is your One Word? (Check out OneWord365 for more info!)

I have mine... but I am keeping it quiet and pondering it over... it chose me and to be honest, it seriously scares me - but I think in a good way!

Happy New Year!

December 28, 2012

Christmas fading... with NEW right around the corner!

Ah yes... whether this thought makes you giddy or sad,
- it is true either way:
Christmas is fading!

It seems - in our culture - Christmas 'starts' in October somehow... the stores are filled with all things Christmas, WAY too early if you ask me!  Then comes the actual shopping... the stress... the joy... the family and friends and increase (hopefully!) in all things social... the decorating and baking and cleaning and cleaning and recleaning again... the crafting and caroling... the laundry and dishes... the parties and game nights and the telling and reading of stories - new and old... the breathing and slowing down in the midst of the crazy... the love and the legacy and the remembering and forgiving... the sharing and giving and receiving and thanking... and the Reason for the Season trying to shine bright in the middle of all of it!

Finally - a few days drawn out to actually TRULY celebrate Christmas... Christ with us... Emmanuel... finally... the gifts are given and unwrapped... the thank-you's and I-love-it's and hugs are given freely... meals are shared... memories revisited and made anew... gatherings trickle and come to an end... the tree looks naked minus the gifts... the stockings strung on the floor - seemingly emptier than before they were filled... and Christmas is fading!

I LOVE Christmas... even the madness and chaos... I love Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and how we normally celebrate (changes came this year as our little household got slammed with sickness and no one really wanted to share in all of THAT?)... I love the day after, which is my Honey's birthday... and then comes this week... lights are still turned on at night... Christmas lingers but you can see and feel and know the magic of it is shifting... waning... fading ever so slowly... and our tendency to press right on and plow into whatever is Next pulls at our attention!

Now - we move from the hectic rush of the holidays, to the NEWness of what comes next!  The refocusing of what our daily life is all about and where it really is that we want to be heading.  Who among us hasn't wanted - no: NEEDED - a Do Over... a New Start... a Fresh Direction?  It's in these next several days that I love to reflect over the past year, take it slow and be purposeful in the pondering... and I pray for what may be in store for 2013.

Every year, I spend New Years Day morning with the Lord... seeking direction, a word or phrase for the year ahead... a Scripture to cling to, a promise that He may whisper to my heart.  You can read last years' post here: 2012's New Year Post.  I love to reread them a year later and pray over what He said... see how He brought it to pass in pieces and parts... it's rarely ever ALL come to pass - but we can see the forward motion in so many ways!

So I have been quiet around here... drinking in all that is the holidays and now, quiet a bit longer, as I drink in all that is ahead and pray that I can catch a glimpse... get a Word... share some hope for the coming new year!  I encourage you to do the same... and then come back in early January! Join me in sharing what He is speaking to your heart for the New Year coming straight at us! I pray you, like me, can feel Hope arising!


December 22, 2012

Have you prepared Him room?

As is custom around this blog, around this time of year... I submit (and admit - that yes, I am one of those people!) our annual Christmas Letter, written in early December:

Christmas Greetings
from the Aggetts!

We pray that you & yours are well & are finding it near impossible to get through the holidays without experiencing the Love & Light, the Joy & Peace that comes only from ‘Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given.” (Isaiah 9:6)  My mind has been pondering over the Christmas Story – HIS-story, if you will… & I keep reflecting on the Inn Keeper.  We tend to make all sorts of assumptions about him.  As we walked through the Journey to Bethlehem live nativity this year,  I wondered how he felt when he heard the News.  Did He remember them, or were they just part of a long line of customers he turned away? Did he connect the dots, & realize that the couple they were murmuring about was the same one he had turned away the night before - the night before everything changed?

God – for a season, became vulnerable & dependent on flesh & blood.

God – with skin on… clenched fists & tiny toes, lungs limited to air, crying out for comfort.

He became one of us! Yes, everything changed that night!

I keep getting stuck on the keeper of the Inn.  We know that his business was – at least during the census – prosperous; filled to capacity, but we don’t know what he was thinking in the hectic chaos of his day… was he tired & angry… was he seeing income not able to stay – money, just walking away… did his heart go out to this young couple with nowhere to freshen up; nowhere to rest… we don’t know.  Maybe it was a combination of all of those things.  Chances are good, however, that after the fact, the enemy came in & fed him all kinds of lies. Lies like he missed his calling, God was mad at him, maybe he COULD have made room... maybe he SHOULD have made room.  We can guess this because not much has changed in his game plan.  The enemy of our soul loves to sow seeds of doubt & tell us stories of an angry, disappointed God.  We don’t really know what the Inn Keeper was thinking, but what we DO know is Jesus’ birth was prophesied & He quietly burst into this world EXACTLY how He had planned!   

Maybe it’s because our girlie is focused on the future, & pressure is seemingly mounting, & time feels as if it is spinning faster & faster, & we are running out & we question if we have done all we could do – maybe that is why we feel that speaking Life & Love, consistently, on purpose is so vital!  We have found many can get so caught up in doubts & lies of who they really are, in the Bossy lists & Busyness of daily life, & we don’t think about preparing Him room. They - no, WE – can forget to “Come Let Us Adore Him!”  I’d like to think that just when the Inn Keeper was beginning to entertain thoughts of missing the mark, of falling short, of not really “seeing” like he should have, someone reminded him what it says in the Scrolls & how even in his not knowing, God was at work in & through him!

Because, really, that is just how Jesus is!  He is always at work in us & through us & all around us & it really is most common for us – right NOW, in this magical season, to see a bit more clearly – with hearts more open.  We hear the call & even in the rush of all that must get done, we feel the pull to slow down & we sense & feel & anticipate silent nights that are made holy! Our own clenched fists are invited to relax, let go… to reach out… to give & to receive freely… hands & hearts open wide!

2o12 has been a good year in our house… a year, as I said, that has reminded us to live & love & speak – on purpose – with purpose!  In the cold months of winter, we found our entire household going ‘Back to School’ – Kayelyn to West Valley, & the rest of us to Soar.  We attended a Firestorm wknd with Kevin Dedmon with lots of Treasure Hunts going on throughout the Valley!  When things barely began to thaw, tennis season was upon us once again!  Kayelyn always has to juggle tennis tryouts & her DECA club competing at State – she did great on both fronts!  Dave continued to help lead worship at Soar, at church(es), & played in the Healing Rooms as well as volunteering at The Seasons.  Spring was all tennis, all the time – but we LOVE it & Kayelyn had a great season!  Summer was filled with our girlie going away on her own – traveling with friends to Lake Chelan, Moses Lake, & Summer camp.  She was also involved in a summer Intern program through our church.  SOMEHOW we managed to surprise my sister Kim & brought BOTH of my parents with us to visit on Whidbey Island!  We had a wet but wonderful time!  Kayelyn & I were blessed to be on a prophetic prayer team again this year for the Worldcast conference & I was honored to teach a prophetic art class at 1st Pres.  We had a great weekend meeting my sweet cousin Kathy and her hubby Del, had a fun time with friends at Jazz in the Valley, & we took a trip to Portland to visit family & start off the season of Senior Photo Shoots!

Then, it was the beginning of the end… the start of Kayelyns’ Senior year! (Let the madness begin!) I continued on with Senior Portraits – for our kid, as well as for others’!  It seemed like within two months, I had another hobby attempting to turn into a business & I took several family portraits, senior sessions, & even shot a small wedding! I am still in prayer on whether to really pursue this but it sure has been FUN!  October arrived with a family celebration for my parents’ 50th Anniversary!  Dave & I celebrated our 20th, Kayelyn went to Homecoming, & started in with SATs & College Ap’s  - in addition to continuing with her job serving at Orchard Parks, being elected the President of her DECA club, & managing a full load at school!

In October I also – as if I didn’t have enough on my plate – bit off a new ‘challenge’… I stumbled upon a few amazing writer/bloggers (Ann Voskamp among them) & found a Bloggers Challenge to write on one theme, every day, for 31 days!  So – I jumped in – not on one blog, but TWO!  I (mostly) loved it.  In November, we hosted a W.A.R (Women At Risk) Int’l. jewelry party & raised over $1,200 to help support women who have been rescued out of human trafficking & retrained with a skill to give them income & free them from their past.  Kayelyn attended the Western Regional Leadership Conference in Seattle & we had a quiet relaxing Thanksgiving weekend. That brings us to December, where we kicked it off by hosting a Progressive Dinner with some Soar friends.  We are having an Ugly Sweater Game Night next weekend  & then I will be praying for few to no calls to report in for Jury Duty through the rest of the year! 

Even so – it’s my honor to serve… not just on a possible Jury – but to serve others around me… to go wherever He sends me & to Shine Bright… to Speak Life… to Be Love!

He is, after all, our example!  He lived His life on earth, giving it away… from flailing, clenched fists to outstretched, nail-pierced hands, He gave His life away!  

His call to us is nothing less…  To come & Adore Him… to fill up in His Presence, in His Word…  & then to go & spill out!

We pray as you celebrate the holidays & reflect on His story that you will see that God came near… that He became one of us, that He knows you and can identify with you, SO THAT you can identify with Him!  Yes… he became one of us, & everything changed!  

Merry Christmas and may you Prepare Him room... now, and always!!

~Dave, Karrilee, & Kayelyn~

December 20, 2012

Does it FEEL like Christmas to you?

I can't tell you how many people I have talked with, whether over coffee face to face, chatting over social networks, or on the phone, who have said to me, "I just don't feel like it's Christmas!"

This was before... before - as a nation - we all began to feel like that!  This was before... it was in the midst of tight financial times, battling illness, just being worn out, feeling pressure and no peace, feeling stress and no relief... and then last week unfolded, and what little Christmas 'feelings' we had stirred up seemed to come crashing down as we fell to our knees.

...and that is where it hit me! Christmas isn't dependent on our feelings... and if our feelings are to play a part, they must be found and put in order - right here... on our knees - at the foot of the Manger... where it all began!  Chris Tomlin posted on facebook this morning that "The first Christmas gift given was worship. Still think it's the best gift we can give."  Christmas begins on our knees.  We strive for balance between our cultural Commercial Christmas, and the Christmas we know to be True... less is more... Christ is born... Help has already come - and is still here today!

I love all the glitz and glitter, the lights and carols and ribbons and bows... but in the hustle and bustle of all things Holiday, let us remember what is most important: friends, family, real life connections... heart to heart... invest in each other around the tree, yes - but also across the table and over the phone, even beyond holiday vacations.  I went through the motions of Christmas in early December.  I did the shopping, and crafting, and card making... I did a little baking, and writing, and mailing... all the while, trying to get it done early (as is my tradition!) so I could slow down and relax... truly enjoy the season.  I found that I was nearly done, and yet not really 'feeling' in the holiday spirit myself.  There was a heaviness... a cloudiness, if you will that seemed to be blocking what I wanted to see clearly. I wanted that magical feeling of Christmas... the giddyness and childlikeness - I wanted the excitement and the joy and the peace on earth, good will to men!

I would get glimpses of it... feel a stirring... Watched the snow falling - that helped!  Wrapped the gifts... a warming from within awakened... but it was reading through some fellow bloggers posts on Advent that helped me to refocus and their words rang so true in my heart.  We had friends come for an unexpected visit from South Africa.  It was watching Mother and Child, out in the cold, in the dark of night - making their first ever snowman together that I remembered... joy is my choice... all that magic and childlikeness and peace... it became flesh and dwelt among us... Christmas came in a Manger - but He didn't stay there!  He hung on a tree, and purchased my ransomed life long ago! I have been redeemed.  Go ahead... whisper it to yourself... speak it out loud again and again... Do you feel it stirring?

Christmas is not a feeling... He is the Word made flesh... Christ the King born in Bethlehem... and thank God He isn't swayed or ruled or manipulated by how I feel!  Your budget may be pulled tight, every which way... you may be facing huge life situations - health, relational, emotional... decisions that need to be made, changes just around the corner, unknown lurking and seemingly overshadowing you... but let me gently remind you (from one who also needed reminding) - He is the Light... He is Christmas... and He is HERE!

As I mentioned, a few kindred spirit writers helped me see Christmas more clearly... I encourage you to bookmark these links and read through their postings over the next few days... I believe their posts will stir in you that which you are looking for!

Nikki over at SimplyStriving has a series on Christmas songs that will bless your heart and stir your spirit as she invites you to really ponder the lyrics that are oh so familiar!

Ann - as always - shares words and heart, spirit and truth in a poetic stirring way over at A Holy Experience that will remind you of the Joy of the season, even in the midst of sadness and uncertainty.

Lisa Jo (tales from a Gypsy Mama) doesn't shy away from authentic real life and her post about looking for something good again will remind you that you won't have to look too far!

And lastly... two video clips that will stir up Christmas in you... and remind you that Christmas is just the beginning... but oh - what a Holy Night that began it all...

Merry Christmas! I pray this weekend you will find time to worship... to wonder at the Christmas story... and that you, too, will feel a stirring... a hope arising... a thankful heart for the gift of a Son!

Praying Christmas will come home to you today!

December 17, 2012

Why I write...

My new friend Kimberly Coyle over at find time for tea has been blogging about writing and creativity this week and she got me to thinking... why is it that I write? Sometimes it feels like it is for Him... often times I'd like to think it is for you... and a lot of the time it feels like it is all for me! Honestly, I can't remember a time when I didn't write?  I am what you call a Journaler…

...from the age of locked diaries hidden beneath beds, all the way through the poetry phase and crumpled up stories littering the floor, to the moment I met Him… (& ‘him’ – meeting both Jesus & my earthly husband at the same time!)

I write because it's a call… it is part of who I am!  I journal everyday happenings, I write note cards to friends, send emails to family far away, I blog about hobbies and daily life and how He is so madly, madly in love with us.  All of it, with the hope that He spills through the ink, reaches through the screen, and that He will transform even a simple line into a breakthrough for the ones who will receive it!

It seems everywhere I go, the Lord is stirring up creativity and wanting each of us to know that we ARE creative!  We are created in His image… part of our identity is wrapped up in eyes that can glimpse beauty and hands that make Glory be seen. No matter if you consider yourself artsy, or crafty, or creative, or not - you ARE, because He is!   This year the Lord has reminded me again and again of the power of words; the creative power of words.  He has taught me to speak on purpose, with purpose!  He has called me to speak Life and speak Love and speak into those hurting and lost - to tell them what good that I see in them; what it is that God sees in them.  For He looks at us outside of time and see us EXACTLY how He created us to be!  And that is my Call – to write about Him… and who we are in Him, and part of what I love most about writing is spending time with Him… catching a vision, and painting it out with words.

My hearts’ desire & why I write is that He will move in it and through it not only to touch my heart, but to touch yours!  For my life message is wrapped up tight in those childhood diaries filled with dreams, that teenage poetic heart, and those young adult fresh eyes, seeing grace freely handed out some 20 years ago, for the first time! It’s also wrapped up in the now daily life of bossy lists and everyday realness of being a wife and a mom, a daughter, sister, friend... My life message is written down, so that it may encourage me on tough days, remind me when I forget, and be a testimony when I am gone!

I encourage you to journal your walk with Him, what He is speaking to your heart, and watch and see what He will pour out through your words!  Whether it turns into a book or not… or if you even mean for it to, it is YOUR story... a legacy to pass down to the generations that follow!

I stumbled upon an old treasure on a few years back while going through boxes of pictures with my mother:  a very old, crumbled, yellowed-with-age poem, handwritten by my Grandmother… it was her story…  it is my story… and THAT is why I write!

December 16, 2012

Count on...

I posted Friday on both of my blogs that they would remain silent for a few days... just needing to make room for the silence and grieving and heaviness that has hit our nation.  And yet - as for many... I write to sort out my thoughts and put focus to my emotions and maybe... as another sweet friend wrote this morning, my words will be your feelings and in sharing - we will join together and pray in agreement for God's Love to shine bright in the darkness... somehow!

In my last post, I encouraged you to journal through your emotions... this is from my personal journaling Saturday morning...

"It is December 15th... the morning after.  The morning after a national tragedy - but as much as it FEELS like that, it's really theirs. Newtown, CT - a small community and while we all as a nation; a world, grieve... it's in the everydayness of small town living that my heart and prayers go out to cover and to saturate Newtown.  A shooter, mentally ill (as if that information needs to be stated) killed his mother in her home, and then went to her work where she taught kindergarteners and he killed 20 children and 6 adults before his life was over. 

Tragic.  Unfathomable. Dark & evil and wicked... and we are reeling and topsy turvy and unsure of what to say and how do you help comfort an entire community so ravaged by death?  "Weep with those who weep..."  Oh, that part is easy but after that, what?  How can we see through the fog, the pain, the loss (and at Christmas time no less?) and ever even imagine that we will get to live out the next part of that verse?  With all that is within me, I want to Rejoice with Newtown!

Life goes on - ever so slowly... and there WILL come a time of rejoicing in that Community... and yet, right here and now - the marching on of time seems so cruel and unfair, when what we really want is for time to stand still.  But God - Who lives both inside and OUTSIDE of time is full of Grace and Mercy - at ALL times.  He is good - even when we're dizzy and not quite convinced of it.  He is good.

As I reach for this - my 'one thousand gifts' journal - the verse on the cover catches my breath.  "Count it all joy..."  Really?  All of it?  My spirit wants to try, but my flesh today is louder.  "But HOW?"  I know, from both His word, and from reading Ann's, that counting blessings - counting gifts, counting it all - brings healing, and well - joy. And yet today is a day of weeping and I guess even in that, we count on...

#403) Teachers and Staff who stepped up, hovered over, and kept safe.
#404) The Peace in last breaths that only He can give.
#405) That these babies blessed their homes - even for only a short time.
#406) That the shooting didn't last long, and there was an end to the madness.
#407) That memories of loved ones - good memories - live on, while bad ones will slowly (prayerfully) fade.
#408) That many parents were able to take their babies home with them... still alive.  Let's not forget!
#409) That Grace comes down like rain.
#410) That Goodness overcomes evil... that God wins.
#411) That today - at least on THIS day - we are One Nation, Under God...

Count on, my friends!
Count on!

December 14, 2012

Join me in prayer...

As I was adding photo's to a different post, the news broke about the tragedy in Connecticut today... what I had planned to say today here... well - it can wait!

This tragedy is so very heart wrenchingly sad.  So senseless... these kinds of events so often leave us speechless - at a loss for words... and this is a good thing! It is good to be still... to be quiet... when our thoughts are hazy, and our world feels wobbly at best.  This blog will be quiet for a few days... I will be writing my heart and His in my own personal journal as I process through the events of the day! I encourage you to do the same.

Join me won't you, as this is a time for praying, for loving your family and friends, for miracles...

I am praying for these families... this town... our world.

Miracle working God... come near, once again!
In Jesus' Name,


December 11, 2012

I am the Girl...

I am taking up the prompts from the lovely Jennifer Camp's post on You Are My Girls... sometimes it is good just to speak out some declarations of who we are!  I encourage you to do this too... some of them are more 'speak things that are not as though they are' statements - adding a measure of faith to them, as they come into being!

I am the girl who believes that she is . . . Destined for everyday greatness! I believe that I am called and loved and watched over... that I am sent and covered and equipped - even on the days that I simply don't feel it, because even when I am not consistent, HE is!

I am the girl who loves . . . to laugh! A little giggle, or a Laugh Out Loud belly laugh.  I love it... ("Smilings my favorite!")  I am blessed with a seriously hysterical family - sometimes a bit sarcastic, but never in a biting way... quick witted... that is what they say about us! I laugh every day... I think it is important!

I am the girl who runs away from . . . confrontation, although I am getting healthier, and better educated and equipped to know that there is such a thing as HEALTHY confrontation - a confrontation done in love, dripping with grace and honor and an offer of restoration! I find myself running less... but still shrinking back out of habit!

I am the girl who hides when . . . feelings of insignificance or invisibility arise.  When I enter a room and find no friendly faces, no eyes to connect to  - my flesh wants to hide a bit, to lean back against the wall and observe awhile... and yet it's my heart that desires to connect and to commune and be filled up and to pour out.  I am learning that when I want to lean... I lean IN, not out! Take the risk... cross the room.  Chances are, someone else is feeling the same way and is needing a hand and heart extended too!

I am the girl who laughs when . . . (see above comments on laughing!)  I laugh every day... I laugh at my husband and my daughter, I laugh at my friends and family, I laugh often at myself - both because sometimes I am just funny, and sometimes I am downright clueless! I laugh at facebook and twitter and every once in awhile at a tv show.  I laugh when everyone else laughs, and - sadly - I laugh alone (when everyone else knows enough NOT to laugh!)

I am the girl who cries when . . . someone is crying... or when He simply shows up and overwhelms me with His Presence. I am tender-hearted and I can feel your pain; I can sense it.  I used to hate this, but I have come to see it for the gift that it is and I have learned that even though it is a gift - I have the power to have boundaries with it! Some 'things' are not mine to take on!

I am the girl who grew up . . .  in a small town... the same small town I live in now and I have never left!  My husband grew up here too... we have raised our daughter here, and she - now looking at colleges, is not wanting to go too far away!  We are blessed with family close by (literally - some are neighbors!) and I LOVE this town.  I am only recently wishing I would have taken some risks and gone on some adventures and even as I type this out, I hear Him whispering, "It's not too late!"

I am the girl who struggles with . . . knowing what I hunger for, and yet not knowing how to release it and bring it into being!  I hunger for freedom in worship... for an abiding... a waiting on Him, expecting and anticipating for Him to show up... I hunger for preparing Him room... and then letting Him do or say whatever He wants in and over us! I have tasted and I have seen and I struggle with the next step in seeing this come to pass in the church - in my church.

I am the girl who longs for . . . the Father's Heart to be made manifest... for the world yes, but for the BODY to experience the scandalous grace and wild abundant love that the Father has for us!

I am the girl who knows . . . how to pray.  I love the Lord and I have confidence that He loves me back... well - first - He loves me first!  I know He hears me when I pray and I know that when I pray, things happen! I also know that He wants us ALL to be able to say this!

I am the girl who is tired of . . . playing games in church... I want the Real... I want the Red Parts... I want the Power & Grace & Signs & Wonders... I want the Bride to rise up and LOVE... I believe I want what He already paid for!

I am the girl who is afraid of . . . never following through with her calling.  I am the girl who is afraid of getting side tracked again and again and again. I am the girl who oh so often finds her plate piled high with all things good - but is left wondering what it was again that was MOST important, and how do I prioritize my days in order to accomplish all that He has for me?

I am the girl who  . . .  is just now, at (gasp) 42, stepping into the pieces of me and standing tall in who I am ... in Whose I am.  I am a Bride... and my aim, my goal, my call is to let His Love so shine through me that others will bask also in the Light of the World!  My desire is to Speak Life... to Be Love... to Shine Forth!

I am the Girl who loves Him... and you!

So, who are YOU?  How would YOU answer these prompts? I would love to hear!
From one of His Girls...

Searching for Identity - Tuesdays Unwrapped

I am joining in with Emily Freeman today - this Tuesday, and sharing a blessing unwrapped...

We had been trying for weeks to get together over coffee to simply catch up in person! Facebook and emails are great - but nothing replaces the joy of face to face fellowship with a kindred-spirit friend! We both had to reschedule a couple of times, when at last - the reason for gathering was urgent, and no longer casual. I recognized it in her Mama's heart... the way her voice was just a little shaky, and her words couldn't mask the emergency of her emotions.  Coffee would be tomorrow... in the privacy of home, with purpose and prayer.

I grabbed my Bible, said a prayer to hear Him... to be Him to her in the moment... to offer wisdom that is not my own - and off I went.  Ironically, on my way to her, I got a text from another Mama hurting... one whom I hadn't talked to in ages... praying with understanding had reached it's end before I even pulled out of my driveway.  But isn't it in the midst of the broken, that He loves to rush in like a flood and bind up our wounds?  It was then and there - on that short drive across town, that I began to see more value in my own struggles, my own emergencies, my own scars only recently healed. He truly DOES use all things together for good... To both of these precious sisters, my prayer was to be real... to let Him use 'all things' to pour out and encourage them!

We sat across from each other over mugs, sipping coffee and sharing hearts...

Raw, authentic, searching... Amen!

"...lovely, messy, unexpected" - for sure!

I loved how even in the midst of her speaking - she was allowing the Holy Spirit to edit her words - in order to maintain Honor.  This was a painful lesson I learned just months before the hard way, so I recognized it for what it was - wisdom and grace.  The struggle and strain to honor those who have hurt us, even when they are not (yet) being honorable. It was sheer beauty!

We talked, we laughed a little, and cried a little, and we bowed our heads, our hearts, even our hopes and dreams... and we prayed. Peace came in... Love showed up... we could feel a shift - even if it was mostly wishful thinking, we felt faith swoop in and lift it up!  And then, almost as an after thought, she said she had just one more question and then I could go!

"What are your thoughts on rebellion?"

Hmm... ok - well, at least it's an easy question?

I had to take a moment to regroup. I prayed silently... not quite sure what to say... not quite sure what she was looking for.  I asked the Lord to tell me what HE thinks of rebellion (from this side of the Cross) as that is what truly matters.  His answer was quick and sure and took the breath right out of me.  We sat quietly as I let it wash over me, through me and found once again, the air to speak:

"Rebellion is simply a cry for Identity.  Rebellion is an active searching out for who you really are."

As I let this soak in, I reflected back over my own life, and the lives of my children... from toddler age to teenage... yes! This is it!  As I spoke it out loud, we both saw the truth in it... and for both of us, it shifted our perspective on acts of rebellion.  Consequences will come... I am not saying to ignore it... but now, after hearing His heart on the matter - how can I not look at one in rebellion and take every opportunity to speak Life, and speak Love... to speak into their identity and who God has created them to be! How can we not?  After all - in all the messiness of it, that is what their heart is longing for... even when (or maybe especially when) they do not know it!

Love Wins... and Love Does!

No matter the circumstance, Be Love today, my friend!
It's who you really are!

December 4, 2012

Tuesdays Unwrapped - Our See-Through Tree

Ahhhh... the return of Christmas and lists and shopping... of all things December and Crafting and Decking the Halls! I (mostly) love it!  I love the tradition of it all and the memories it stirs up, as well as the opportunities to build upon them - especially this year, being our girlies' senior year in high school - not quite sure what her future holds or if she will be living at home next Christmas or not!  We are finding ourselves doing things more on purpose... with intention... not simply out of habit!

We USED to be a Real Tree family... I do miss the smell and the hunt and the family outing - but then we went for years with no tree, replacing it with a manger and baby Jesus and a Star hung from the ceiling.. we laid gifts around Him and it was never once an option to forget what Christmas was about!

I loved that - and we still do that, but then our girlie was a little older, and having not been raised in a church going home, there was not a lot about the holidays (tradition-wise) that I could pass down... but decorating the tree - that was something I remembered as a child! So my Mom gave us our old fake tree, and we were thrilled to have it!  A few years ago, a friend was moving and downsizing and gave us a pre-lit tree - she said you just take it out of the box, it clicks together (instead of having to assemble the tree, limb by limb) and TaDa - you are done!  While it is just barely taller than me (which is not saying much!) - and it is rather - well - See Through... it is done and ready for ornaments in two minutes flat!

So - while I dream of buying a taller, fuller tree after Christmas each year, this little tree does the trick and instantly adds magic to our celebrations!  However, I have to say I was not quite as excited to click together the holidays this year. 

Our tradition is that my daughter and I decorate together and this year - even more so than any of the others, she wants everything the same and is clinging to tradition.  The hovering of All Things Changing is drawing near, and tears brim over easily through broken gasps that come quickly at the mere thought of the unknown... and that is her... not me (yet!)  But that is not the reason why I was hesitant to pull out the box and plug in the tree.  No... it was because we didn't have much time without it.

Last year was rough... a lot of dreams died, expectations and plans, hopes and hearts were broken... a long season of restoration was at hand... and all the while - we needed a sense of Home... of Security... of Joy! We NEEDED to remember what we stand for, how precious our little family of 3 is; we needed a sense of normalcy when everything else within us and around us felt oh so unstable and unsure!  So - the tree stood... in the corner of our Family Room... for not weeks, but months.  For not one or two... but for four or five!

It got to be embarrassing to have company over... not so much in January - or even February... but come Easter - this was ridiculous, right? It was not even healthy, maybe?  And yet - it served a purpose... and putting it up again this year, I was afraid it would have lost some of the magic! 

 But I see the wisdom now in serving our children, in ministering to them in ways that speak to them even if it appears crazy to onlookers.  I see the wisdom in providing for them a place of Home when they are hurting and scared and unsure!  While others may have assumed us lazy, or maybe seriously ill, what the presence of that tree represented in a season that was not Christmas, that was not festive, that was not rooted in celebration, was all that is holy in this house.

So we really only had a few months without the tree, and while the running joke is how long it will stay up this year... the magic of Christmas and decorating the tree was RICHER, not poorer... and now, it means so much more!  So - my Tuesday gift Unwrapped is enjoying - THOROUGHLY enjoying - my See-Through Christmas Tree!  ...from a place of peace... from hearts and perspectives both healed and restored.  Who knows how long we will leave it up this year - the possible "last" year she lives at home... more than likely it will go back in the box come January! But the power of tradition and home and family shines on...

While I make Handmade Cards, and wrap the gifts; while I wait for snow and turn up the Christmas carols, I sip my morning coffee and gaze at the twinkling lights on our little tree... and I realize that it is a tree, once again,  connected to Christ that has brought healing and hope to us and that continues to light the way!

May it - may HE - do the same for you and yours!

P.S.  "Tuesdays Unwrapped" is hosted by Emily Freeman over at Chatting at the Sky... every Tuesday in December, she writes about an everyday gift that may otherwise go unnoticed... instead - she slows down on purpose, and unwraps the gift in the midst of the lovely, the messy, the unexpected - and she invites us to do the same!  To join in, or read what others' are counting as Gifts, click HERE!

November 30, 2012

Five Minute Friday - WONDER

It's our LAST Five Minute Friday of the year!  At least our last 'official' one! Lisa Jo is graciously taking December off... being new to this amazing little gathering, I am sad for the break, but also see and get the wisdom in it!  I suspect I may be tempted to still post a 'five minute' post on Fridays, but the fullness of the holidays may actually cause me to take a break along with the rest of the FMFPartiers!

The Fine Print: "Five Minute Fridays" are hosted by Lisa Jo Baker.  It is open to anyone, so to learn more about it - and to jump in yourself (the more the merrier!) or just to find a linky to see what everyone is writing about today - click HERE!  The idea is to simply write... for Five Minutes flat... no editing, no deep thinking - or at least REthinking, no spell check - just write! Let it flow! We all write off of a prompt that Lisa posts at one minute past midnight Friday morning  (EST.)  I'm loving the community of amazing bloggers and the creativity that flows from these magical Five Minutes!

So - here goes:
Five Minute Friday - WONDER


"I think the biggest enemy in the church is not the devil.
It’s our own passivity to the majesty of the Lord Jesus.
At some point the Good News becomes okay news and
Christianity is no longer life changing but merely life enhancing,
and Jesus doesn’t change people into radicals anymore, just nice people.
The church becomes dull, predictable, and monotonous.
Here’s the thing about dullness,
what it means is we’ve lost our capacity to be simple before God.
We’ve lost the ability to live in wonder and astonishment."
                                                                           ~Graham Cooke

Ouch!  I stumbled upon this quote the other day and it made me catch my breath.  While I sadly see the truth in it, I immediately looked inward... "Can this be true?  Can this be said of me, Lord?"  The truth is it depends on the day!  But right now, in THIS season - you know, the Deck the Halls and Come Let Us Adore Him season - a sense of Wonder comes easy!  We get caught up once again in the magic of Christmas and Christ's birth and the story... HIS-story...

The challenge is to keep that awestruck hope and wonder filled faith... to behold His majesty in the midst of January and March and July!

To stir up a sense of Wonder, we added two things to our Christmas celebrations when our daughter was young: We set our focus in our living room around a manger/feed trough and placed a Baby Jesus, wrapped in swaddling clothes and hay, as our centerpiece... instead of putting gifts under a tree, we placed them at Jesus' feet.  It was impossible to forget the Reason for the Season!

The other thing we added was a gathering around the menorah and lighting the festival lights.  While we are not Jewish, we recognized that Jesus most likely did not celebrate His birthday the way we do... He didn't gather around a tree hung with lights... He hung on one and He WAS the Light.  As a child, however, in all tradition - He DID say the Scriptures, repeat the Nightly Blessings, and light the candles, reflecting on not only the history... but knowing - KNOWING - that He was the fulfillment... that He was - He IS - the Light of the World!

So as we pull out the menorah and gather the candles for Hanukkah - I reflect back and can't believe how grown my daughter is! As we are facing the end of her childhood, I love that I still see Wonder on her face as she says reads the Scriptures and lights the candles... and I think of Mary... watching Jesus light the candles... did she, like me, ever actually forget that this baby of hers was not - in fact - hers at all? They are but ours for a season... but always - ALWAYS - they are His!

In the glow of the candle, my heart swells, my eyes brim over, and I remember... this sense of Wonder that comes at Christmas, abides with us, within us, all year long and there is never an end to our childhood... we are always His... always!


Merry Christmas!  Happy Hanukkah!
May you be Awe-struck and Wonder-filled this holiday season, and all year through!

It's Friday... click here to read, or jump in and let us hear your voice and join the crowd... and remember to check back come January for a whole new round of play!

Five Minute Friday

November 21, 2012

Thankful Links... to help you start off Thanksgiving Day!

Last weekend, I was overwhelmed and honored to be included in a great post by Jennifer J. Camp where she highlighted a handful of fellow bloggers who had written posts that encouraged or inspired or blessed her in some way! I LOVED this idea... over the past few months, I have discovered and befriended many fellow bloggers who boldly share their hearts and bare their souls... their words inspire, heal, encourage, give comfort, challenge, shine bright, offer grace, all dripping in love! (Sometimes - all of that, in a single post! Sometimes, all of that in a single FIVE MINUTE post!)

So - I wanted to take a moment, this Thanksgiving week, and do the same!  Here are just a few of the incredible anointed writers online whose words and hearts have blessed me this week:

*     Because this post was inspired by the amazing Jennifer, it comes as no surprise that her post on finding an unexpected, unplanned for moment of quiet is first on my list!

*     Elisa brings it home with a simple call to be a blessing over this holiday week - to follow the call of Philippians 4... read this post, and join Operation Blessing!

*     Lisa Jo eloquently reminds us that - no matter the size of your home - your Hospitality can be LARGE.

*    Nikki over at SimplyStriving has a way about her... it's real and honest and stirring and I have yet to meet her in real life - but my heart sings loudly that we are kindred spirits - her and I! I know this Thanksgiving post will bless you... and stir you on to think about how you live out your gratitude too!

*    And how could one possibly make a Thanksgiving post and not include words by the one with no flourish to her name, who has reminded us of the importance of counting gifts?  Ann Voskamp talks about giving thanks even in the hard times... yada yada yada!

I hope you are able to read through these - maybe in between shifts of baking, or setting the table, or simply bookmark them and read over them when the house is quiet once again, the turkey coma has hit, ...the dishes can wait! Feed your spirit!

I pray for each of you that at some point... some rare quiet alone-in-the-corner moment, He will show up and surprise you... and cause you to remember all the ways you are thankful - the ways you take for granted, the people you may not count at first thought, the circumstances that while hard, produced fruit you couldn't have planned for.  May you take snapshots in your heart (and a camera is not a bad idea either!), and make memories together... glimpses of gifts you will be counting for years to come!  I pray you will find stirring within you a spirit of thankfulness that goes beyond this one Thanksgiving Day, and evolves into a way of life... a way of living... a way of being love!

I'd love to hear of other blog posts that have blessed you this week as well! Please feel free to leave a link in the comments below!

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 16, 2012

Five Minute Friday - STAY

It's FRIDAY!!!  Literally... it is Friday morning and for the first time in more than a month, I somehow COMPLETELY forgot about the online party that is #FMFParty on Twitter every Thursday evening... (I did manage a Thursday night without Nutella though, somehow?  Odd!?)  I woke up this morning to read a few of my favorite bloggers and realized I missed the party... but better late than never - so here I am!

Five Minute Fridays are hosted by Lisa Jo Baker.  It is open to anyone, so to learn more about it - and to jump in yourself (the more the merrier!) or just to find a linky to see what everyone is writing about today - click HERE!  The idea is to simply write... for Five Minutes flat... no editing, no deep thinking - or at least REthinking, no spell check - just write! Let it flow! We all write off of a prompt that Lisa posts at one minute past midnight Friday morning  (EST.)  I'm loving the community of amazing bloggers and the creativity that flows from these magical Five Minutes!

So - here goes:
Five Minute Friday - STAY


"Stay"  I hear Him whisper as I am rustling through papers and notebooks, looking for an old post written years ago! {sigh} I had on my plate a project that when I got it, it was already late.  No pressure!  I am still just learning how to step into the pieces of me, and stand tall in the callings I have. I am a Writer... I am a Photographer... I am an Artist.  (This is my mantra I keep repeating over and over!) You see - it took me years to step into who I am... who He created me to BE.  I grew comfortable in the Staying, in the Being.  I could boldly claim that I am a Mom, a Wife, a Sister, a Friend... I take these roles seriously and want to do them well.  But these other things, these 'hobbies', these things I am passionate about - those are roles for the 'professionals', right?

So my plan was to sit and stay... to soak in His Presence and get His guidance for this piece I was late in accepting and needed to complete it days before I was asked.  The worship is on... I am sitting, waiting, when in restlessness, I go searching for inspiration elsewhere. Surely He knows... He KNOWS my time frame, and He is the One who reminded me about that old blog post and maybe if I can find it, and reread it again, something will stir and I will have direction and He can anoint and enable these amateur hands to paint something... anything... that will --- "Stay" He whispers again!

So I breathe Him in... lay back, close my eyes, and sit quietly... slowing my breath and my stress and my thoughts as He clears my mind and grabs my focus. In a flash I see it! I can really SEE it in my minds eye now... but that is not even a hint of what I was planning on doing!  I stay longer... relaxed now... feeling His arms around me and His heart is for me and He releases me to action once again.

I do reread that post... it is good... it helps to remind me of WHY I am doing this anyway... and I paint.and I love what we have made!


Don't you just love when you honestly slow down enough to remember that every thing you do - you are partnering with Him! If you invite Him in - He will paint with you, and dance, and do the dishes, and fold the towels... He is ever present and always here... always whispering, "Stay!"

It's Friday... click here to read, and then find your voice and join the crowd!
Five Minute Friday


November 13, 2012

Leaving a Mark... & a Legacy of Love!

(Reposting today... reflecting... and remembering this prayer...)

It was a glorious Fall day...
a gorgeous afternoon for a walk...
Brisk cool air... sun shining... blue skies...
my mind pondering on the season I am in.

I know I wrote a lot about my Beloved Autumn last month,
and much of what I love about Fall is all of the change.
It's ironic, really - that I am just now
(yes - just now... in my 40's)
beginning to not only embrace Change,
but to see it as something exciting and adventurous;
as something not to be kicked against and fought,
but to be expected and hopeful in!

The season in life that I find myself in is a letting go kind of season. My beloved daughter - my very heart beating on the outside of me... the very best thing that I have ever done -

is preparing to graduate high school and spread her wings and fly!

She is amazing...

I mean - Ah. MAY. Zing!

The sky is the limit for her!
She is a joy and a treasure!

So we begin (or continue, really) the Letting Go,
in order to not Tear Away,

and it is in the quiet moments in between college apps and scholarship essays that I wonder... that I pray... that I hope...

"Surely in all these years, Lord
we have left an impression...
we have lived a life out loud in front of her
that she will long for and lean in to
and choose on her own, with passion."

As I walk, I whisper this prayer beneath my breath,
and I pass by these...

My eye catches...
my heart beats faster...
my breathing slows ever so slightly...

 What kind of mark will be left on her that we are completely unaware of leaving behind? For wherever she is... wherever she goes, she takes a piece of us with her and my heart longs to be reassured that the impression on her heart is the same on ours... that when people look to her, they don't see US
as much as they see HIM!

She has watched us grow,
as we measured her getting taller.
She has experienced us live and love
fumble and fall, grow in grace,
and learn about honor.

She has watched us
be happy but feel sad
be hurt and choose forgiveness
be offended, and let it fester...
only to (finally) lay it down
and decide to NOT choose bitterness.

She has watched us
open our home and our hearts
push aside differences and work through hard times.
She has heard us pray, and cry, and laugh,
and sing with everything within us His praises
She has watched us succeed,
and she has seen us fail...
her... ourselves... others...

She has seen us
disappointed, dismayed,
- our faith disrupted, but not detoured.

She has never seen or heard or watched us
even once turn our back
on her... on each other... on Him.

We have raised her on purpose in many ways,
dreamed dreams with her... for her...
some our own, some were born in her...
We have seen some come to pass,
some be laid down to die,
some resurrected in hope...
we are sowing into her
a life of Love ...of BEING Love,
of offering Grace and Mercy...
of seeing the unseen
and expecting the unexpected

We are determined to leave her
a Legacy of Love
 "on earth, as it is in Heaven."

But as I pass by these leaves,
fallen - let go of at the roots on through to the tips...
wind blown, rained upon, and trampled...
and I see the life in them...
the impression left behind...
I realize much of what is imparted is done
not so much on Purpose,
but in the Persistent...
the daily living out of our lives.

I pray that what lies beneath the surface of her
is more than mere shadows of what she has seen in us,
but the very remnant of a life lived well,
giving glory to God with every breath...
the very impression of the One who loves her
best and most and the longest!

May His image transfer through us to those around us...
and to those who came from within us!
May our persistent pursuit of Him
and of living a life of Love
be what leaves the deepest impression
on those who are coming up after us!

So in this season of change...
of excitement and trepidation,
of trusting and hoping...
we lean in... lean ON...
& trust that wherever
- whenever - we fall short...
His HUGEness makes us taller
and the impression we have left
is one that strengthens and empowers!

As I walk on,
my prayer continues under my breath,
and from the top of my lungs,
"May He shine through her...

When she walks out of a room,
may His impression linger after her."

Let that be said of me too, Lord!
and us and you!

I am reposting this today - and praying it anew...
linking up with and her Story Line Community:

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