Endless Gifts- Photo Edition

This year, this 2012, I have found myself also capturing images amidst my words.

Sisters (Abigaile and Melodee)

Her, reading, to them.

"Blondie" Baby Doll

Their feet

Their Faces

Dappled Mountain Light

He gathered them all by himself.

She, Melodee, keeps a "special eye out" just for him.

Her hair

Their bows

Their bows

*Almost* teen-aged

Numbers 127-137

Valentine’s Day

Photos enlarge when you click on them. 🙂

Endless Gifts- February

February- somehow- spun down, down, down. A spiral into something… and I found it hard to surface. Here I am. Surfacing. Several blog posts- never written. Hopefully, they too, will come back to me. There is a seven month photo post coming.

Endless Gifts

78.)I soak the words strung out like diamonds on black velvet- they are rolling on pure, sweet notes of music. Pure. Heart-felt. Beautiful. I roll the neck. I squeeze the tears. I feel like I was just captured, stopped, apprehended out of my struggling self. I was. It hurts that deep ministering heart-piercing “stab me now perfect love” hurt. I can’t seem to shake the exhaustion. It makes me sad. I close my eyes to not see all the ways I didn’t love today. It’s hard. In this grace moment, I soak. I soak it like a steamy, hot bubble bath. Pore through me. I have three sons waiting, waiting for me. Somehow managed to get other little ones tucked. Suck air deep. Mind wash clear. Somehow- I got caught in this grace moment. I stay caught… just a little longer.

79.)Daddy’s home today (Sat. 2/11) O! the joy that fills the heart and home… how we have missed as we now tuck 14 Saturdays of workaday weeks behind us…

80.)February snowflakes fall like white fluff of goose down bits, all shapes, fluttering every which direction, up, down, side to side. Twirling. Then streaking, hard. I watch them blow up, down, over the deck. I peer out that frontward streak. Welcome sight of southern winter… I think.

81.)5 tousled boyish heads. 6, if you count my love.

82.)Two pairs of little boy feet, criss-crossed, tucked under, on the same chair. They build legos together, kneeling.

83.)Daiya…especially on pizza night.

84.)How I try so hard to make this special Valentine Tea… and … their happiness- it is a grace. The candle never gets lit and the special white napkins stay in their package. The pancakes get colored with food dye rather than real strawberries and the kitchen and myself- just a mess. The flowers are wilting (from my birthday a week prior but there wasn’t anything suitable in my quick Walmart jaunt) and more… but the smiles and their happiness… O, it was all worth it.

85.)My girl, on the couch, reading aloud to the little boys.

86.)Tulips, rising.

87.)He discovers the first robins and comes announcing… a good half week before his brother noticed. 😉

88.)Tidings of good news. Very good news.

89.)A dinner out with all of us. It was worth it. And I say, let’s do it again. And again. It is good. Good for me and for us all and how their faces- just come right. Into. Focus. Outside of our usual environment. And how I love each precious one- tall lean ones and precocious three year old, and everyone surrounding before and behind.

90.)I see a young man from a distance on the grocery store sidewalk. I am sitting, tucked in our big van, with 7 of our children. I watch this young man look to cross the street. He is tall and lean and looks teen-aged to me. He walks with a lilt and a lift in his step. A handsome young man… I start as he comes closer. Wait. This is my son. My oldest son. Enroute to our van to fetch the keys for Dad inside the store. First-born son- now as tall as me and cresting above Dad’s shoulder. We all laugh when I share the story. My heart is grateful. He is a fine son, a good son. I feel old caught between a rising teen and a teeny baby(ies). My body shapen lumpy, bumpy. Yet, I realize it is futile to ponder that ‘oldness’ feeling. I stare at Todd. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I don’t want him young again. I want him now. As he is, seasoned with our life together, seasoned with all our grey of righteousness, and all the cords of love that wrap us tight. I want him now. So—–, I should accept me, now. I crest on the waves of the years the Lord has given me. I am in His Hand and I am thankful. Thankful. And surprised. One day, I will look around at these precious lives and they will be all grown-up around me and yet I will still be me, me, me. The me who bore that first born son an April more than a decade ago. The me who carried twins 40 weeks, 1 day. The me who studied literature and education and writing. The writer, the poet, in the deepest heart of me. The me who loved, loves, and aimed, aims high. Still. I am still that girl staring out my window in the dark of night, pondering and longing. Its me and You and our eternal bond. Forever. Thankful.

91.)How she calls us “y’all” twice in the same sentence and the deepness of the roll- it just drawls… and how we talk about it later and laugh and we can, no way, in any form, recreate that “y’all” just the way she said it.

92.)A Father/Daughter date… and it is just what she needs. I braid and tuck her hair, just so. We try a splash of perfume, too.

93.)Anticipating the homeschool moms meeting

94.)When I feel lonely, so alone, and isolated, displaced, and confused…”There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” and “His understanding is infinite” and His love for me is more perfect, complete, and soul-filling than ever a human lover’s could be.

Psalm 147
3He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.
4He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.
5Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.

95.)Flowers in their hair…

96.)The sunlight changing. Heralding soon Spring…

97.)He walks in. He walks in to my 5:25 p.m.(2/22) surprise. Light shining, shining still. And I throw arms up in surprise, squeak happiness and, instantly, locked into him. I lock and grip and he laughs. We laugh. I can’t let him go. O, how, how I have longed heart-sore for these days. He comes home. We sit. Then- a bit, and up to get dinner. Plugs in the speakers, does a wild, Toddish dance. I weep happiness. Pandora and every song echoes all the ache in my heart. Daddy’s home- and there is just nothing, nothing like his presence in this house. Kids gather round. None of us know quite what to do… everyone soon productively this and thating…. Except me, I am just- SOAKING. And capturing- because this is a grace… the grace of these days… and how I have stretched taut wondering how to make it here- and here we are. Extended hours- over. Saturdays-over. Todd home. TODD IS HOME!!!!

98.)Big Girl holding Little Girl B is shafting- mid-morning light.

99.)Tall Son holding Little Girl A across his leg and she playing with blondie hair baby doll

100.)The “book” he wrote for me for my birthday- Tree Clan.

101.)Asher’s joyful pounding on the piano

102.)His fingers threaded through mine

103.)It is more blessed to give than to receive Acts 20:35

104.)Sweet, sweet mountain air. Delicious fresh fragrant smell.

105.)Blondie hair just cresting bitty ears, now

106.)Them all clean and sweet after a bath

107.)Care package full of abundant love from a dear, dear, dear friend- spiritual nourishment and helps of all sorts. O my friend- how I miss and love you!

108.)My quiet time basket newly placed by my chair

109.)Free-falling — to land right. Here.

110.)Listening to Rich Mullins with precious kiddos gathered round- and O, the memories.. a dark, starlit night- white Subaru, me, Todd- the movement of those days… “Sometimes the night is beautiful….”

111.) How they love, love love this one and she dances all on her own

112.) I am sitting, listening (Pandora again- this is really a tool in my life) and a young child lisping a portion of this verse from Isaiah 40-
27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD,
And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God”?
28 Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
29 He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
30 Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
31 Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

113.)Robust dialogue

114.)A dance to David Crowder in a darkened room

115.)Little Ones coming home from church, waving Valentines, faces shining

116.)Girlie baby talk and effervescent babbling. Love.

117.)Ceiling fans spinning, Golden Carolina

Numbers 118-126- written in my handwritten journal.

holy experience

Invigorating Thoughts Toward the Value of being home with little ones

I recently read this blog article by my sister-in-law. I found it quite invigorating. I have found myself (after reading her article) thinking(a bit) about child development as I interact with my babies. I love thinking about how much good I am doing them by loving them wholeheartedly and providing them security. With Joshua (my three year old), I fully gave myself to nestling him on my chest- just loving the fact that this “kangaroo care” was so very good for him developmentally. Research has shown that this type of nestling can regulate tempature and breathing in infants and it is routinely used in the NICU with premature babies. Parents will spend time holding their babies, skin to skin, chest to chest, and this has real healing power! I had learned about this(kangaroo care) more when Joshua was an infant(just through some reading I was doing- not because he was premature- he wasn’t- but I reasoned it would benefit any baby!) and I would nestle him under my chin and rock and sing. I have precious memories of Jonah tucked under my chin as close as can be while I fed him his bottle. It was a whole cuddle/body experience. Recently, I have read a bit about RAD. This is reactive attachement disorder that deeply affects some adopted children who are neglected and traumatized when they are infants and this extreme neglect and pain literally rewires their brains and some become brain-damaged. It is difficult to impossible to heal from what I have read. Although, nothing is impossible to God. It has just served to underscore how much good I am doing when I interact with our precious ones, meet their needs- not just physical but also emotional. Our very interaction is building their souls. So I am mightily encouraged to smile and talk to my little ones, read stories and great literature with older ones, and interact on all levels with the children. Soul building.

Motherhood has shaped me tremendously. I think it does any woman. Life of your life. It is transforming. I am not one of those who can look back with no regrets at so many, many different things but I am grateful for all I learned. I have learned a lot. It is sanctifying and humbling. I remember my second born’s intense need for me and I struggled. I struggled with that need- I remember rocking him and singing to him and how still and calm he became. ( He was one of our fussiest babies.) I wish I would have done that more. And with each child, O! the errors- but O! the graces, too.

I found it invigorating to realize intellectually the soul good I am doing just in the natural, daily duties of mothering little babies. It is encouraging to realize that it really does matter.

Sweet Sunday- Southern Style

Sweet Sunday- Southern

Boston Butt Pork Roast with my secret recipe glaze ( although this has an Northeastern name, I never experienced this until living in the South)
Home-Made Mashed Potatoes (organic and no skins, too)
Warm Macintosh Cinnamon Apples (went searching for these a bit ago to go alongside Chicken Pot Pie- and found the recipe credited Southern Living 😉 )
Steamed Green Beans
Tossed Salad (one head Romaine, one head Iceberg, three Cukes, one Green Pepper, one Red Pepper, one head of Broccoli- salad for tomorrow, too)

Sometimes what I initially dread can become the most soul satisfying work. I pulled bags of produce from the shelf, the fridge. I laid them out in a large group on my table. Ready for my prep.
I marveled at the colors in my hand as I washed the salad ingredients. Silver bowl filled with deepest greens and red. It felt like art. It was art. Kitchen art. Creating in the kitchen…
The drudgery was all in my head. Once I began and just gave myself to my task- the colors popped and nothing can replace the great feeling of cooking wholesome, from scratch food for my family.

I find myself listening. I am listening a lot these days. Listening to tales of heroes, and warriors, deep, enlightening truths, and complicated story-lines. I am listening and seeking to encourage and facilitate minds engaging with the written word, all across our family. At all times, but almost, especially, it seems, while cooking.

Endless Gifts- The Joy Dare

43.)Wrapped in cloud in early morning, wrapped in those boas round our house, a garland of grace? An ornament like no human can forge? I feel cloaked in quiet. It presses in and presses out.
44.)Her hair…
45.)How their coos are the music of my heart
46.)How nicely she fills my arms and scrunches, a pleasant, squishy bundle
47.)How, with these twins, it gets better and better as now they start to engage a bit more with each other… will I experience twin talk, too?
48.)Something so inherently nutritious about home-made soup and how that smell of onion and garlic- pressed in the press, sliced under my knife- just rises. Sinus clearing goodness.
49.)Thankful that I can make that home-made chicken soup I dreamed of so long ago when first son rolled within and I fought viral sickness… I cut onions and carrots and chicken and thought- I will make this home-made soup for my children. I will make it when they are ill. I will make it for their comfort. And then there was a season of long years when I couldn’t make that home-made soup- because it wasn’t healing and nutritious at all for a precious one in our home… and now- one step at a time- chicken broth is once again our friend and O- how we are enjoying all things home-made with chicken. I thank You, Lord. I thank You for home-made chicken soup and broth on my stove, and chicken pot pie and chicken and dumplings and chicken soup with rice and how I just crack
50.)the eggs right into that broth, one after the other- just like we did when I was a kid…I thank You, Lord. Thank You.
51.)Watching the same 10 years of Thomas with my 5th 3 year old son… O, the memories.
52).I debate and ponder… just a few minutes tacked on to a quick library run… is it worth it? Will it bring that sense of refreshment I am yearning for?… I go for it… 15 minutes, a hot, hot, hot drink, and some words- alone, in quiet dark, with a streetlight shining… My heart turns over with the beauty of the poetry, my mind stretches with language and thoughts. I drive home, refreshed. I flash back to round table Lehigh discussions and that illuminating light that just- would always- shaft within. The elixir of mind sharpening mind…I am so glad I chose those minutes. –Grace minutes-
53.)I learn a new word (sycophantic- and my, what a word…I have to look up sycophant just to really- get it- Definition of SYCOPHANTIC
: of, relating to, or characteristic of a sycophant : FAWNING, OBSEQUIOUS
Definition of SYCOPHANT
: a servile self-seeking flatterer. Whoa!
…… and I read writing, which unashamedly wields vocabularly that baffles me. Searching for my dictionary… I sigh. There is no shame in wielding a word well.
54.)Flashback I think of my brother and how we once discussed Truth with a capital T and truth with a lowercase t. Jesus is Truth, Capital T, all else is a reflection, a shadow, a lowercase t, truth. Still worthy, those echoes point to Christ. Thankful for this precious to me brother…
55.)The last Friday night in January… thankful.
56.)His lightly bearded cheek, all mine
57.)His voice, reading to me, inimitable C. S. Lewis. Love. And my mind lights up, synapsing from written word to heart-caught thought. And then… we talk a bit.
58.)Enjoying the sight of nine year old son, tucked up on the couch, reading for school…
59.)The turning of the calendar page… it’s February… and the wintry scene depicted belies these Carolina Days… will we have a real snow… I wonder?
60.)6:06 p.m. and daylight still lingers… it is still light out! Truly, we have “turned the corner…” o- happy lifting light…
61.)Deep sigh of satisfaction at the close of a truly delightful fairy-tale of a book that kept me smiling and I even laughed, too.
62.)Coming home to her… and how she curls in my arms and stares up at me with a beautiful blue eye while tucked in the crook of my arms…
63.)Their sweet baby smell… inhale it deep.
64.)How he brings me the first yellow daffodil, in January, and I put it in water and it gets tucked away on the counter… my glance finds it fading away- a grace remembered…
65.)How he jumps into my arms and holds on…
66.)Both babies find their toes on the same day, at different times and chew adorable…
67.)I sit with my big girl and Little Boy and read The Princess and the Kiss and how she cries out at the very last page, “O! I wish it wasn’t over!”
68.)How he says, “Let’s go out Mommy and catch that sweet sunshine breeze…” and then a little while later, biking contemplatively on the deck, “I’m becoming grown-up.”
69.)How they love belly time on Big Brother’s leg…
70.)The way the light shines on her brown velvet fuzz and how it rumples in my hand just like velvet… she is just so deliciously soft.
71.)Our January Hymn of the month- Be Thou My Vision and how we make connections in our devotional and Praise Baby DVD- together.
72.)The way she rubs her fist in the heavenly fleece I am wearing and then grips it in her tiny fingers and later- cuddles close.
73.)A strong sense of peace and the Lord’s Presence in the midst of worship music filling the Great Room. I soak.
74.)How littlest brother needs to know the name of each train and biggest brother knows each one. He names them for little one. And I remember Tall One’s bright, inquisitive wonder…
75.)How she watches him, her daddy, twinkle in her eye, smile curling round her fingers
76.)Twin time with my girls at their 6 month well visit- and I so enjoyed… and they were – Baby A- 26.5 inches and 16 pounds 15 ounces, Baby B 26 inches and 17 pounds 5 ounces. Shew!
77.)Sweet Sunday, again, and the strong sense that kitchen work is a type of art. Colors, Creating.
holy experience