During hard, hard times, I pull tight within myself. So tight. And I can’t get the words out and I can’t look up. Usually, I would not even attempt an Endless Gifts…just wait, wait for that hard, round ball inside to unravel a bit.  Or unravel a lot. I am struggling and feel laid low and even hammered. Everything fell apart.

It is sweet to write gifts. It is an act of faith. There is an ugly underbelly in my life I am struggling in and through.

And now, life upends as all the normal routines immediately shift. I am handling much more for the next 5 weeks. And I feel afraid. The dark is heavy. It presses.

I even feel as fragile, broken open and vulnerable, as I do just after a new baby.

How am I going to do this on my own?

I will just do it. Of course. And not very well. But, I will.

I have this sweet friend…this wonderful friend… and she has kept counting… through sorrow and loss and deep difficulty.

And inspired my heart. Released my heart.

So.

Even though this be small, it is a step. Grace-Step.

I am counting…

Todd. And how he loves me by holding buckets for ill children and being hands on in every difficult way. And my head against his chest and I cry. And he knows.

And now I must love him

as I completely release him for the hours and hours needed for work. And create the traditional tax season care package: caffeine/crunchy snacks. Soon, soon.

The ability to know that we needed a one week respite and the clear mind and confidence needed to clear almost everything off the schedule and be home. Reschedule things, skip things, stay home. This week, home. After last week… and all the prior weeks.

For the dear HisWay moms who offered their prayers, emails, texts, and covered my class. For their altogether gracious release of me for this one week. Plus the other multiple classes they had to cover in Feb/March for me. Especially Sandy and Nicole. Especially.

The comprehensive car insurance on the big van that will cover almost all of the windshield replacement (discovered a 12 inch crack in it Sunday when I got in it to go to the store)

The warranty on the fridge and the plumber bills paid by our landlords

Courtney and her texts and prayers. Texts at 5 a.m. and 6. Her “steady state of ready” – which, O friend, I am so not. But those words. Love. And tea. A sachet of her tea with “extra honey”…

Jen and Andrea. Prayers, Love, the understanding of decades of friendship.What gift, this?

the fun birthday gifts from my sister for Norah that helped fill some long, long hours

The one call I managed to take: from my Dad (and Mom) and its comfort

The Irish Animated Children’s Movie: Song from the Sea and

The Mitford Books. So true to what we know from our own time in NC mountains and soul comfort.

The snowman kit we saved all these years from the dear, dear lady from our first church. Finally using it with great joy. It was the perfect snow for it. They rolled great balls of snow. And we even had two snowmen, one front, one back. Yet, still, this storm was so very unwelcomed by me.

A gift in an envelope

sanitizing cycle on the dishwasher

Earth Balance Organic Margarine

Toast- again, again.

The way my cooking skills seem to sky rocket when I am not eating. Best cinnamon toast. Best chicken sandwhiches. Best muffins. Best eggs.

The hope of Easter and the discovery of a new dairy-free chocolate supplier (Easter novelties)

Books. Books, books, books.

The delight on his face when I surpised him with the CD pre-ordered so long ago. The beauty of the cello and our camraderie in our love for it.

The tall son who is my right hand man. A comfort and a strength.

These sons… I walk after one in the Bjs parking lot. He pushes the full cart for tired me. He will pack the car and unload it, too. I will sit in the car and breathe. I will be thankful. These sons… they bring me rest.

Shoppers. I think that place is now one of my favorite places. I found almost everything, everything I needed in time of crisis- including the “hospital grade” Lysol canisters and the disposable sippy cups I wanted.

The settling comfort to my mind as I gather a couple little ones round to read sweet favorites.

Grace gifts found during a week that will certainly go down in our history books- following weeks that were already laying us low, low. Todd remarked about “Maryland winters.” Dear Lord, I pray that this be not Maryland winters for us evermore. We are two years running – misery and suffering. Now, that I think of it… there was also the March of 2014 when Todd got the stomach bug. The reason why this is significant is because it also greatly impacted that year’s tax season. Greatly. So three years of our five- tax  season stress from illness. I am pondering.

This verse that came to my heart as I was sitting in my chair… thinking thoughts the Lord knows:

Proverbs 14:4 NKJV

Where no oxen are, the trough is clean;

But much increase comes by the strength of an ox.

My messy trough/stall is a good thing.

The verse(s) that was given to me in a moment of anguish, and as I continue to question everything and lay it all bare. What obedience is needed from me? Help me, O Lord. :

Psalm 61 NKJV

61 Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

For You have been a shelter for me,
A strong tower from the enemy.
I will abide in Your tabernacle forever;
I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah

For You, O God, have heard my vows;
You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name.
You will prolong the king’s life,
His years as many generations.
He shall abide before God forever.
Oh, prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him!

So I will sing praise to Your name forever,And
That I may daily perform my vows.

I never knew what abundance would pour forth out from this storm.

Sometimes, it hurts to look up.

-Rebecca