Sunday, April 27, 2014

I feel like my yard and look like my floor!

My mother- in- law is the QUEEN of knowing exactly what color to buy for virtually anything.  If it's a couch,  coat, or  floor…ask her what color to buy.  Why, you ask?  She's a cleaning lady.  She knows what color won't show dirt.  She's right every. stinkin'. time.  We had a pretty intensely NASTY kitchen floor.  It was sort of off-white linoleum with a  few holes here and there.  The back door gets more use than our toilet so there was always something "showing up."  It was  pretty defeating. I'd sweep it up, the kids would mess it up!  It was this dance we did…only I didn't love it.  So, 2 years ago when we decided that this was our house (before we changed our minds once, but now it's where we'll grow old…maybe) we got new countertops and a new floor.  It's the perfect floor, except for the one awesome thing about it…it doesn't show dirt.  I am somewhat deceived by the floor and was realizing this the other day when I was feeling confident and walking around in bare feet.  BAD IDEA!  I felt EVERYTHING.  I swept the floor, but as I was sweeping  up my pile I realized it's been a while since I have mopped.  (Mostly because I like to keep exercises of futility to a minimum.)  Not seeing the dirt doesn't mean it's not there…it just means it can be hidden.

My children are pretty great.  My marriage is pretty sturdy.  From the outside looking in…there's no real mess.  That is not entirely the truth.  I get mad when I don't get taken out like some sort of princess, my children don't clean up after themselves, they argue, complain, blame and pout.  Sometimes I watch nighttime TV.  This is just what I'm willing to admit.  Sometimes when sin is aired, whether in a story or news or however, I shudder…because God has made it clear that flesh is flesh and no one is worse or better than someone else.  My floor is filthy and God knows it.  Praise His Name that He is the great pursuer. He is the great forgiver.  My floor may be messy for a time…but there is nothing His blood cannot cleanse.   Nothing.

This has been a weird season for me.  I've been sort of irritated with the Lord, mostly a result of my own ungratefulness.  I struggle to believe He'll do for me what He does for others.  I'm thankful that His faithfulness doesn't depend on mine and I'm clinging to the Truth when my emotions lie.  Perhaps it's a season of waiting.  Of being rooted and grounded, but a little pruned.  Like our yard.

For years we have sort of neglected our yard.  I have thought (wrongly) that to spend money on flowers and such was frivolous, and instead allowed our house to look sad and unwelcoming.  Over the the last 2 years we've started making a few changes.  This week we added roses.  They were at Aldi for $4.99 so I picked up 2 to keep our one little rose bush company.  Our hydrangeas that we bought last year, mostly dead, are growing and thriving!  Mike trimmed the bazookas off the gardenias and I am hoping that they will grow.  Really hoping.  They were so big that they weren't even really producing flowers anymore.  I feel like my yard is a picture of hope.  Little plants being watered and cultivated.  We are expecting beauty to be the result of our labor.  That's what I'm expecting in my heart, too.  Beauty.  That when the Lord would look on me, small and a little fragile, He would see the beauty that only comes from a heart that has been properly tended by the Master gardener.

How about you?  Do you ever feel like your floor but look like your yard?  If you do…take heart…you aren't alone.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, March 23, 2014


*Note:  I wrote this a few weeks ago and planned on posting pictures, and couldn't pull it off.  So, here are the words.  Which is why I started blogging anyway…I'm a words kinda gal.  Blessings!

We got SLAMMED!  We knew it was coming.  We even had family members warning us and giving us tips.  I filled up the gas tank and then sort of waited.  It was horrific!  We have a small house that is parked right next to a green space full of TREES!  I haven't been so very frightened in so long.  Most anyone you talk to would tell you the same story.  They just laid there, listening, waiting for the time when the tree comes through the roof. I do know of one family that was SPARED as a tree fell into their bedroom, onto their bed…while she was in it.  How were they spared?  She WALKED AWAY!  Grace.  We lost an Oak tree.  That was very sad and insanely scary as we heard it fall.  I was so thankful when dawn broke.  It revealed what had broken, but we were able to enjoy the light!  Our street is still waiting for the debris to be cleaned up.  Some folks have more than others, but I have been absolutely amazed at some of the trees.

We live on an older street.  We have dogwoods that stretch their beautiful arms high and wide.  We have a wide variety of vegetation and many flowering trees.  Every morning as Sonny and I make our way up the hill I walk by these trees and a few of them surprise me.  When they first went down some of them had buds.  At least I thought maybe they had buds.  Now, as I start my day up that hill I am noticing that some of them are not only budding, but it's like they are going to flower!  These are the trees that are laying on the side of the road waiting to be picked up.  They were bent, broken, and were hauled to the road…debris.  Then they have the audacity to blossom!

I wish I had that sort of audacity.  It's like a stubborn hope.  Do they know where they are?  Do they know that they are waiting to be collected and destroyed?  And yet they bloom?

This has been mulling around in my mind for a few days and today I thought of my time in college.  One of my friends had a "bloom where you are planted" picture hanging in her room.  I don't think we ever joked, but there were times that we said that we shouldn't settle for just being where we are.  Like, we shouldn't remain status quo.  Think what you want, but today I thought, "Bloom where you are broken."  Those trees are stubbornly rocking on.  They have been designed to do something and even in their broken state, they are doing it.

I am all too aware of my broken state.  Spending all day every day with my children reveals way more than I care to mention.  Even my children are beginning to see their broken states.  It's difficult to receive the grace that is ours…or rather, believe that there is grace enough for the journey.  Sometimes I'm afraid that if I don't get a long enough night the mercies won't be new.  Silly, but sometimes true.  Like there has to be some sort of time gap for God's mercies to have time to reboot…or charge up like he's some iPod or cell phone that can't remain charged.  His mercies are new every morning.

Most of us are all too aware of our state.  We aren't ignorant like the trees.  But, can't we learn something from them?  That we would have the audacity to flower!  The stubborn hope that would cause us to continue doing what we were made to do despite our brokenness.

I don't know about you, but that excites me.  The idea that wherever my brokenness makes itself known, God can cause me to bloom.  Won't that be something for the world to see?  A bunch of broken, messy folks, to bloom…bursting wide open with hope that the world is craving.  So, go head…bloom…right where you are broken.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


You know what is so very interesting about sitting in the dark?  The sin of your heart is brought to light.  It's a disgusting and glorious thing that God does when he allows us to see those things that don't really resemble the likeness of Jesus Christ.  Then you get to kneel with the family of followers and speak those words that are only possible because of His Spirit.  Standing, then, in the full confidence of forgiveness, we continue to press on.  Then we practice everyday, the confessing, the standing…the falling…again.  I am so very grateful for His words that penetrate my very being.  Always reminding, always reclaiming, always refreshing even when it's dark.  Thankful for the power that turns my lights on and the power that keeps my heart soft.

We memorize a lot of things.  We memorize timelines and history sentences, parts of speech and math facts.  We store large quantities of God's Word and don't watch a ton of TV.  We read good books and say our prayers.  But you know, there is another part of me.  Part of me that I want my children to know.  There is a part that loves old country music and old 80's movies.  A part that craves warm air and saltwater.  Really, a part that is unearthed when my toes are buried in sand.  There is more to me.  I want my children to have good habits.  I want them to be real live people that laugh at jokes and love others.  So, today,  Anson and I discussed George Strait and how "the man" could possibly choose Cheyenne over his lady.  How songs that tell stories are my favorite and George Strait tells a good story.  This Friday night when Mike takes our little ladies to the Butterfly Ball, we'll pop popcorn and I'll finally share my favorite movie…the Goonies.  I may or may not make a big deal out of the little bit of language because Anson loves adventure and I think One Eyed Willie will be a favorite of his like he is mine.  Tonight after they shopped for dresses with me, I explored their fort and "Adventure Corner" in the woods.   Trees littering their "paths" and the sun setting too quickly, we crunched through the woods…them showing me.  See, that's what I'm finding this is, this parenting gig.  I show them, and then if I'm lucky…they'll want to show me.  They'll want to take me by the hand and show me their world…their world with forts and makeshift kitchens and adventure literally waiting at the corner.  I must, MUST, allow them to take my hand.  And I must MUST let them know that there is more to me than IEW and the next First Language Lesson.  I'm enjoying it and I cannot wait to introduce Anson to the Fertelli's!!!!

Also, as I finished up a book titled, The Strong Willed Wife, I have some thoughts that I probably shouldn't put on the internet just yet, but suffice it to say, our culture is wrong about a lot of things.  Even in our sweet Holy huddles, we've got some things backwards.  So, I'm excited to have my heart searched out by the One who made me, and look forward to becoming more and more the person He meant me to be.

Currently I'm getting to know an amazing man named Booker T. Washington.  I am seeing how little I valued, or appreciated my education (especially my college education that was funded by my Dad…I didn't pay a dime).  I want to pass that on to my own children.  People worked HARD to afford their education.  Many risked their lives prior to the Civil War to teach or be taught and post war people would do WHATEVER they had to in order to get to school.  My kids struggle to get to the TABLE after a full night of sleep.  At one point, Booker worked from 4 am-9 am and was allowed to go to school at 9:00 (when school started) but since he had to walk a mile and he got of work at 9, he snuck and turned the clock back. Then, when school was over he had to work for another 2 hours! And…he was no more than 12!  Is this the passion that we have?  Um.  No.  How could we? We have no idea what it is to be illiterate.  At least some of us.  So, education is on my mind.

I suppose that's all. It was a resolution to write, so I am.  It was also a resolution to get to bed on time, so I am going to wrap this up.  I do hope you are enjoying the very place the Lord has you…enjoying Him…and all of the people He has given you!  Thank you for stopping by!

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Sheri rolled her eyes as she glanced at the clock.  "UGH, does that say it's 11:30?  I'm going to have to drive home with all of the Amish buggies."  My husband is "English" but he grew up in Amish country.  Sheri is my sister-in-law who has a sweet husband who will put her children to bed so she can visit with her big brother.  My first trip to Mike's home was only a few weeks after we had returned from South Africa.  I knew he was from Amish country, but I had no idea that he really meant Amish country!   His parents share a yard with the Amish on one side, and then 2 doors down on the other side is an Amish farm…and across the street, and down the hill.  It never gets old to me.  A few years ago while we were up I told Mike that I wished I could be Amish and he lovingly smiled and informed me that I wouldn't last 3 hours.  He's probably right, especially in the winter!  It is certainly hard, I'm sure (obviously I don't know myself, but those fences are REALLY long that the ladies paint in the summer!), but the simplicity of it causes me to envy.  Now, I have watched videos and have heard enough…I know they sometimes borrow dryers and have phones in the middle of fields (I've seen them walk to them!), but over all…they are simple people.  While we were there the neighbors had their 8th baby.  Right next door.  It seemed so very magical to me that while we were laughing and playing games and doing our thing….a new baby was entering the world.  A baby girl.  It made me want to wander over and sit in the simple, uncluttered home bustling with children and ask, "How?  How do you continue to fight against a world that is blinking and talking and changing, and continue to raise barns, cows,  and children with so much joy?  How do you remain simple when MORE, MORE, MORE seems to be the new National Anthem?  How do you walk in the light with no electricity while many of us grope around in broad daylight for a piece of quiet and solitude?  How do you do it?  Please, how?"

I am so tired of saying, "No."  "No, you do not need your OWN iPod, or iPad, or Wii time or another movie, or another Veggie Tales, or anything!"  We are pretty lean by the world's standards when it comes to technology and screens, but it is a battle to be sure.  Anson struggles to know that his friends and his cousins (especially his cousins) have access to technology when he is so limited.  I just will not allow mediocre habits to form that will take the place of excellent habits.  Whether it's reading or playing outside…or talking to someone.  This is so stinkin' hard!  I'm a child of the 80's…born in the 70's, but spent my fair share of time running through sewers and riding bikes all over the neighborhood until the street lights came on.  Now we are safe and sound in the comfort of our own homes lulled to numbness by the white noise.  I just want to know how to do it.  I think the Amish have it right with how they surround themselves with community.  They were ALL over the place over the holidays.  Visiting and celebrating.  Caroline stood in the front yard and jumped up and down waving at the buggies as they passed.  The kind faces smiling and waving from the small window made me jealous that I had to return to the busyness of my life.  They drive buggies because they are not in a hurry…which is what drives most people up the wall.

How?  How do we slow down while still working and growing.  How do we balance the changes around us without allowing them to bring change within us?  I really don't have the answer, which is why I wanted to wander next door.  The Lord has certainly been kind in helping keep my life simple.  We have been blessed to live in a  relatively small space which makes many things easy!  My children spend their days with me which limits how much running around I do.  I just hope that the Lord will continue to lead me in simplicity.  There is a certain beauty about it that is breathtaking and alluring…and something I will strive for in 2014.  How about you?  What do you do to attempt a less hurried and more simple life?  If you have any great ideas…please pass them along!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Faith: Lost and found

My poor husband really has his work cut out for him. I am virtually IMPOSSIBLE to surprise.  I love a surprise, I do, I don't seek to destroy his best efforts, but alas…every time!  Until this Christmas.  He pulled off a pretty sweet Christmas, but he had to have his mother purchase the gifts (so I wouldn't find out via the bank statement) and then had the items shipped to her house.  WHAT???  He knocked it out of the park.  No, not diamond studded earrings, but a Pampered Chef stoneware cupcake pan and the biggest surprise?  A "GOONIES Never Say Die" t-shirt.  I really could have burst into tears!  It was such a fun surprise.  Fourteen years earlier, only a few days prior to Christmas he gave me the GOONIES on VHS just a few minutes before slipping a diamond ring on my trembling 22 year old hand and asking if I'd journey with him.  So, it was really precious.  However, this post has to do with what he gave me for my birthday.

I am difficult to buy for (and like I said, impossible to surprise) so I usually have a running list of things that I would "like" that Mike can choose from.  At the top of my list this year was a mustard seed necklace.  I'm sure it was years ago when I first saw one, I may have even owned one, but I really love the imagery.  That really, faith only the size of a mustard seed and I can command mountains to jump into the lake?  So, when I accidentally checked our Amazon account and saw that it had shipped, I was heartbroken. I had done it again.  I ruined it.  So, should I pretend that I didn't know?  Should I act surprised and hope he doesn't catch on?  Well, I confessed and he grinned, knowing it was only a matter of time. I really don't try!  So, he let me have my gift early and I didn't take it off until one Sunday when I realized I had put another necklace on as well, and looked sort of A-Team Mr. T and neglected to put it back on.  Long story short, I went looking for it the other day.  I saw Julia's pretty locket dangling from her neck and remembered that I hadn't put my necklace back on.  Where did I put it?  I checked the pockets of my jewelry organizer thinking I had slipped it in one of the pockets.  Nothing.  I checked my window sill where things sometimes appear.  Nothing.  Dang it!  I made such a fuss over wanting it and then misplaced it so quickly.  And it is so small.  Where could it be?  What will I tell Mike?  UGH!  Why am I so irresponsible!!!

I suppose it's easy to misplace something so small.  As I was searching I thought of how quickly my faith really does disappear. I may be running strong and singing His praises and then my mind is wandering and I'm nearly crippled with fear that I may not be good enough for God or anyone else.  It doesn't take long before I am groping in the dark for something small, something small yet significant that can stop my knees from knocking and my heart from turning cold and unbelieving.  The mystery is something that almost frightens me.   He gives me the faith to believe, that alone is a gift, I can't muster the faith of a mustard seed, it's given to me.  Oh Wondrous Love is This O My Soul!

I did find my necklace.  I had very responsibly placed it in a jewelry box and upon finding it immediately fastened it around my neck, my reminder.  It's not huge, and it's not me.  Everything necessary for a life pleasing to the Lord is given to us from His very hand.  The courage to love strong and submit humbly.  The diligence to correct one more time, in love.  The faith to stare at those  mountains of fear and doubt and with a quivering teeny tiny faith command them  to take the plunge because they've got NOTHING on my Savior…THE Savior of the Universe.  It's just little, but it sure does accomplish big things.  Just like me when I am walking in the Truth,  very little, but in His power, able to accomplish big things.  What might those things be this week?  Lord, give me the eyes to see them, the courage to face them, and the faith to believe that I have victory over them.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

I am a triangle.

He's pretty incredible at what he does.  He uses stones as his canvas.  He lives in New York and tries different things with different lighting and photo sensitive paper and is really a neat guy.  She learned Spanish in French with English being her first language.  She just spent 2 years in Cameroon in the Peace Corps.  She's an insane amount of fun.  He writes in Washington D.C. and his Mom glows and giggles when she talks about him.  I could go on…these are my cousins.  I always felt like my brother, sisters and I were like, I don't know…off.  We couldn't "do" anything.  We are fabulous at a party and pretty good with drama.  We aren't really high maintenance and enjoy good food and good music, but we can't really "do" much.  No one in our family has ever pointed that out, except for us, which is usually the case when you think someone is better than you at something.

Every year our church has Evensong.  It's an evening of "Lessons and Carols."  I always enjoy going.  The sanctuary is beautiful with greenery and poinsettias and the music is God honoring and wonderful.  I LOVE "Once in Royal David's City" and this year our children sang.  Actually they did last year, too…but anyway…both the adult and children's choir sing and there is a small orchestra and it's just simply lovely.  It's a great lead in to Christmas to keep our hearts fixed and focused.  This year the cymbals stole the show, however, because they scared the pants off of the children's choir every time they were clapped together. (or banged or clanged…how should that be said?)  You could see the children directly next to the percussion section start to move the other direction when they knew it was coming.  Their faces started to wince a bit while they waited for the clang.  Then it struck and even though they were ready they jumped a little bit and you could see those around them giggle.  I wasn't anywhere near them and they still made me jump a bit.  This year my sisters that live in town were able to come and where they enjoyed the cymbals,  they really got a kick out of the triangle.  I have to admit, when you really watched it, it was sort of funny.  You have all of these big instruments.  The drums you can't miss and the cymbals that no one can deny are there, the horns and so on…the orchestra everyone is all there, then you have…the triangle.  When it's "turn" to shine approaches it is held carefully in the air and then struck at just the perfect time, and "ting," usually only once.  Maybe it has 2 or 3 more appearances and then it is gently laid down to rest.  Ashley and Alex have a combined age of 12 when sitting side by side and they found it so funny.  As I watched it with them, it did seem out of place.  I mean, I own a triangle myself!  It's not the fanciest instrument in the world, but it gets to play in the orchestra!  It doesn't have a huge role, but it's there and when it does it's job, the piece is better for it!

I don't know how to sketch a scene on stone and I'm struggling with a dead language, but y'all…I'm in the orchestra.  I'm not the fanciest, or the biggest, or the loudest (well, sometimes I am) but I have a part.  God has wired each and every one of us to not only "do" something, but to "be" something.  He has created us to "be" something to someone and certainly to the lost world.  It is only when we look to our Creator do we realize that we have any value at all.  We might look silly when we find ourselves next to the cymbals or the horns, but they are part of a whole just like us.  The cymbals can't be a triangle and the triangle can't be a french horn, but when they all focus on the Conductor and play their part, they make music.

So, this year as I learn how to deal with my own issues and struggle to focus on my Conductor and only "ting" when I'm asked, I'm going to be so thankful that I am a part of a bigger picture, an orchestra…and I'm going to pray that the music that is played makes the Conductor proud.

So, I felt like the entire chapter was necessary. :)  Many blessings to you and yours and Happy New Year!  I do have a small resolution regarding this little space, so maybe you'll see, or hear more from me this year.  TING!

None of my cousins know that they are better than us, so please don't tell them! :)
And, in case you are wondering about my cousin that uses stone as his canvas…here he is
And I just remembered that I should note the few things we can do…here we are in order:
Aimee: She kick boxes…her arms are incredible!
Ali: I love people and enjoy helping Moms
Andy: He is AMAZING with people and is a bartender at the Hyatt (my hookup for wine corks to make my awesome wall for the kid's art)
Ashley: can draw unicorns and decorate beautifully
Alex: can recover from Lupus and her house burning down twice and is absolutely the fun aunt!

Concerning Spiritual Gifts

12 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.[b] 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit,and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

Unity and Diversity in the Body

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[d]? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

Love Is Indispensable

And yet I will show you the most excellent way.