Friday, December 28, 2012

one foot at a time...

"Through the heartfelt mercies of our God, God's Sunrise will break in upon us...showing us the way, one foot at a time, down the path of peace." - Luke 1:78-79, The Message

I absolutely love this translation of this already beautiful verse from Luke.  What a hope-filled and incredible reminder to us all as we walk toward a new year.  I am thinking this will be my verse for the year ahead.  When I've chosen a verse to live by before, I've always chosen something impossibly hard to live into or that caused more guilt than joy and hope.  It is not that the verses themselves were impossible or unrealistic for my life, but I let them weigh me down instead of carry me forward.  I think this one will serve to challenge and inspire me, helping me to press forward with hope and confidence.  I am lacking in latter more often than I would like to admit.

I told my {incredible} husband that my new years resolution, however vague, is to live without fear.  He told me he thought that was an excellent resolution and he would help and challenge me along the way.  I added later that I want to live with steadfast hope and faith in the year ahead.  I am sure the above verse will help me hold onto hope and breed confidence in God, in myself and just in general.  I already feel hope and confidence welling up just thinking of it!  I am excited about the possibilities of a life filled with more hope than fear, more confidence than doubt and more peace than discouragement.

I am certain that this path of hope and confidence will require a daily surrender on my part.  I am ready for that.  Perhaps part of my problem in the past has been wanting to be able to live into a verse immediately, instead of letting go and allowing myself to live into it a little more each day.  And isn't that what life is anyway?  A path we walk one foot at a time with hope and confidence because our merciful God goes with us, showing us the way down the path of peace and abundant life.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Big News!

We've got some big news...We are expecting Baby #2 in April!  We are pretty excited!  All seems to be well so far.  We hope to find out what we are having near John Reynolds' 2nd birthday.  We have talked to him about what's ahead, but he really doesn't understand what is going on just yet.  We think he will understand a little more closer to time and have the highest of hopes that he will be great about it.  He is a tenderhearted, happy, sweet kid.  We are hoping that translates into being an awesome big brother!!  To be perfectly honest, none of us know what kind of craziness bringing another one into our little life will be like!  I am sure: blessed.  A little more chaotic, but blessed.  I will post more along the way!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Well, I don't have to tell you that I completely tanked on the writing down of a thousand gifts.


I just quit.  It became a chore for me and I quit.  I wasn't finding the joy in it that I wanted/needed, so I stopped writing them down.  But, as I've said in previous posts.  The book and the idea really found a way into my heart and I do feel much more grateful.

Well, most of the time.

I'll admit that I have days where I find myself less-than-grateful and unable to see the blessings right in front of me.  Watch out world (Jason, really!) on those days!  Give me a few moments of reflection as I sit with John Reynolds at night and I am back*.  I need but a moment to remind me how blessed I am.  Wonderful husband.  Precious son.  Incredible family and friends.  A home. And the list goes on...Here's the thing:  I know I am blessed.  I don't have to write it down to know it.  But I do need to be more disciplined about the remembering part of it.  An encourager by nature, I am prone to discouragement myself.  People in my life can be dealing with the same sort of things I am and I can confidently encourage them and tell them all will be well.  I might have a little trouble practicing what I preach in that department.  Funny how that works.  Anyhow, so when I have those quiet moments (rare) or even when I find myself in the midst of the loud ones (much more common), I am trying to consciously count my blessings.  You know, take notice of the great stuff all around me.  Easier said than done, for sure...but it makes for a sunnier attitude and it cultivates joy.  A huge theme/desire/goal in my life.  Joy.  And to "always be joyful" requires {gulp} discipline.  I am trying, I really am.  I hope you will, too.  It will make us better people.  More joyful.  Better parents.  Better spouses.  Better friends.  Better.

And isn't that all we want everyday?  To be better at whatever we endeavor.

*Yes, we still "rock" him to sleep.  Although it is really not rocking, as he has always just liked a few moments of stillness with us before we put him down.  And I/we have no regrets.  I/we will do it until he won't let us anymore.  These are priceless moments and we are savoring them.  Don't judge. Besides, he can totally go to bed without it and has.  No biggie. :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


It seems it has been well over a month since I have posted any words of my own.  If you keep up with me at all on Facebook, you already know it was an eventful month.  Wait...that is an understatement.  It was crazy, y'all! We're talking worthy of a sitcom craziness.  I can say sitcom now, but it sure felt more like a mini-series drama there for a few days! the span of a few days I managed to fall down (stupid wedge heels) and fracture my elbow, both of my boys got sick, I fell down again (yep!) and dropped John Reynolds in the front of a million (ok, five) witnesses.  This was both horrifying and reassuring.  Horrifying for obvious reasons.  You never ever want to drop your child.  It is the most awful feeling ever.  Ever.  It is also rather overwhelming to do so in front of so many people.  It was reassuring because the assistant director and one of the teachers were so awesome.  They were calm (I was most definitely not calm at this point.) and at least a handful of people I never met stopped to tell me their own stories of dropping their children.  When it was all said and done, John Reynolds did not have much to show for it..  He was upset and scared at first, but mostly seemed worried because Mommy was upset.  He didn't even get a goose-egg, just a little surface bruise that was gone in a couple of days.  When we got home, he kept hitting his head and saying, "Ohhhh" and then smiling.  I felt a little like that episode of friends where Monica injures Ben and he keeps saying, "Monica...bang." As if I needed to be reminded what happened.

As I type, we are on round three of the antibiotics for this particular ear infection.  I am afraid tubes might be in our future if this doesn't take care of it.  I am hoping not, but there are worse things than tubes.  Other than that, we are doing well.  Meaning:  I haven't fallen down in a couple of weeks.  Progress, people! Life is crazy, but it really is good.  I love life with my boys and am thankful for every minute with them both.

Monday, June 04, 2012

On Experiencing Joy...

"We struggle, we're broken, that is our natural propensity.  And God doesn't leave us to our own devices...What God says is 'I love you so much I'll do whatever it takes to save you from yourselves, to deliver you.  I don't want you to walk around with guilt and shame all the time.  I want you to experience joy.'" - Adam Hamilton

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Yes, he is pretty much this happy most of the time.  We have a great kid, y'all.  Love his sweet, joyful and loving personality so much!  Thankful for every minute with my little family and the opportunity to watch this little guy grow.  He is a delight!

We only pray that we are giving him all the love, adventures and {even} structure and discipline he needs to become the incredible person we believe he can be.    We know we don't have all the answers, but we're doing the best we can.  It is easy with a boy like John Reynolds! I think that Jason and I would both tell you that he teaches us far more than we teach him!  He is a world of fun and we love him so!

Monday, May 07, 2012

The Grace of Wonder

"Dear Lord, grant me the grace of wonder.  Surprise me, amaze me, awe me in every crevice of your universe...Each day enrapture me with your marvelous things without number.  I do not ask to see the reason for it all; I ask only to share in the wonder of it all." - Abraham Joshua Heschel

I may not have put pen to paper to write down the blessings of the last few days, but there have been plenty of them.  Numbered or not, I experienced them.  From pizza and a movie with my husband to quality time outside with my boys and time with friends, it was a wonderful weekend.  Not to mention great conversations with people and the promise of a great week ahead!  I find myself truly blessed, my vision much clearer and ready to see the blessings.  I am praying this week for the "grace of wonder," the eyes and ears to notice the "marvelous things without number" that surround me each day.  I think I'll pray that for you, too!

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Asking No More

"I want to learn to live each moment and be grateful for what it brings, asking no more." - Gloria Gaither

I came across this thought today and felt a resounding "Yes!" rise up within me.  This is it.  This is what I long for in my life.  I have moments like this, but I want life to be like this.  I want to learn to let go.  Live more, stress less.  Love life instead of being overwhelmed by it.  I just finished texting my husband about this very thing.  I caught him off guard, questioning our (my?) proneness for feeling stressed and stretched much of the time.  I feel this need to relax more...but I can't seem to make myself do it enough to make a real difference in my demeanor, countenance and overall outlook on each day (life).  I fixate on how it "should" be instead of focusing on what is real.

And what is real is good, y'all.  I have two incredible blessings right inside my house.  Others that are scattered all over Arkansas and down in South Alabama.  Not to mention some that live right down the street and a few miles away.  And countless many others scattered across the United States and even around the world.  I am truly a blessed woman.  It is time I live that way more.  I experience it some, but it I long to feel it so much more in my life.  And this yearning in me...well, I know that it means it is possible.  There are people who live that way much more than I do.  It is an attainable goal, I believe.

After my random texts, the hubs got a little concerned and called me.  He listened and agreed.  He said he thought he could help me if I'd let him.  I think I will.

We have this running joke at our house.  I am always telling Jason that I "used to be uptight."  He laughs.  He laughs, y'all.  I tell him it is the truth.  He laughs some more.  Slightly irritated, I always feel the need to explain to him that while I might still be a little (a lot?) uptight, I am not near as much so as I used to be.  Those of you who have known me for a decade or two can attest to that.  Seminary (ironically?) helped with that a lot.  I became more myself during those years because I learned to let go a little.  It seems I have all but stopped the letting go and so I find myself stressed and stretched and entirely too serious and intense much of the time.

So...with my husband's help (and God's, of course), I'm going to learn to let go again.  Bear with me on this journey.  And be will take some time.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Living Free(er)

I would love to tell you that I am now at #200 in my journey to write down one thousand blessings.  But...well, not-so-much.  It seems I am terrible at actually writing things down.  There's been no lack of blessings, to be sure.  And I am most definitely more aware of the incredible blessings all around me.  Well...most of the time.

You see, I am human.  Very much so.  I falter...a lot.  Joy fades as I fail to take notice of the blessings all around me.  And when that joy fades, in walks bitterness, resentment and even a little rage.  I feel myself not being myself at all.  Filled with frustration, prone to despair, jaded.  I do not like what I see/hear/do.  I pull out the notebook and review.  So many blessings.  I grab a pen to write down more memory fails.  I cannot recall the blessings at first.  I finally recall a few and write them down.

#72.  Watching John Reynolds make everyone smile. He is such a charmer, that one.  He lights up Target, Country's Barbecue and every place he enters.  So precious.

I write this one down and s-l-o-w-l-y my focus is shifted.  I smile a little.  The world seems a little lighter.  Life seems much less serious and stressful.

#75.  Jason getting gas for me late at night so I wouldn't have to in the morning.

This is just a microcosm of the myriad of things he does for me/us.  He is just incredible.  The answer to all my prayers and more.  He does this for me and I think first of my ungratefulness.  Do I thank him enough for all the little things he does to help, to make me happy and hold me together?  I am sure that I do not.  I am also sure that he did not go get me gas so I would feel guilty about that fact.  He did it because he loves me and wanted to do something for me.  And so I receive it.  This is hard for me, the receiving.  I don't deserve it...kinda like grace.

Aaaand....I'm back.  I get it.  Blessings and the counting of them will always bring me back to grace.  Back to gratitude.  Back

Suddenly, I can breathe again.  I am a little more alive and a lot more aware of what is taking place around me. Blessings.  Too many to name.  So what if I don't always write them down.  They are happening all the time.  If I am not writing them down, I will not feel guilty or let myself get dragged down into the pits called guilt, despair, bitterness and the like.  Ok, I might.  I am human.  I will falter.  I'll just try not to let it completely ruin my mood when I do.  I guess that brings me to another blessing.

#78.  Moments of clarity that lead to {a little more} freedom...and a lot more grace.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Written on My Heart

My days have been busy and, quite honestly, I have not written down many blessings as-of-late. I am ok with this, as I have still found myself much more aware of the blessings in my life. This is the ultimate goal, I believe. To cultivate a heart of gratitude in all things. And while not many have made it to paper the past few days, they are written on my heart.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Real Friends

I was a bit delinquent writing down the blessings this weekend.  It was definitely a blessed weekend full of friendship and sunshine and all sorts of goodness.  I was just too busy living it to sit down and write about it.  I consider that a blessing in itself.  I think I'll make that #53!  For now, let me just share this one:

#49.  A friend "hiding" Easter eggs for us after we missed the church egg hunt (by minutes!).  I was so defeated and sad we missed it (even though John Reynolds really didn't know or care!) and I think this friend could tell I was heartbroken.  While I was talking to his wife, he went and put out some eggs for his kid and mine to find.  That is friendship, people.  I was truly touched.

This little gift just reminded me how very blessed I am in the friendship department.  I have people far and near who love me so well.  And I am not easy to love, y'all!  I hope I am half the friend that all of my friends are to me.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


38.  Playing "Pip" with my friends.

I've been joining some friends to play "Pip" the last several Wednesdays. My friends are this 90+ year old couple (90 and 94, to be exact), both sharp as tacks a world of fun.  They have been married for 72 years, y'all.  That is a lot of years!  That means that she was just 18 when she married him.  I asked her once if she was scared then.  She said, "No.  Not at all.  We've both always just felt that home was wherever the other person was."  So sweet.  They are precious.  And most definitely an inspiration.  They are funny, too.  She says they play "Pip" because the other domino games are "too serious." I love the Wednesdays when I can join them to play.  Makes my day.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Charis in Chaos

I was just sure that I would have instant results from this counting to one thousand gifts experiment.  You know, feeling all light and airy and...well, all holy and sanctified.  I was thinking {hoping} I would immediately feel more at ease and more centered.

It has not been so.  I am enjoying it, to be sure.  As I write down the blessings, I do have real sense of just how blessed I truly am.  But the sanctification part that I was hoping for isn't really happening just yet.  I definitely feel my countenance changing.  Ever so slowly.  S-l-o-w-l-y.

I'll go ahead and confess a few things here.  First of all, I have felt a little guilty about the "quality" of the blessings I seem to be writing down.  Are they too materialistic?  Too much the same from blessing to blessing?   Are they authentic enough?  I also feel as if the counting of blessings is somehow worrying me a little.  Like, am I aware enough of all of the blessings in my life?  Or I only write down one or two at a time and this somehow makes me feel like I'm taking the blessing that is my life for granted.

And then I remember the book.  I remember her having trouble with this, too.

"Do not disdain the small," she said.  "The whole of the life - even the hard - is made of of the minute parts, and if I miss the infinitesimals, I miss the whole...There is a way to live the big of giving thanks in all things.  It is this: to give thanks in this one small thing.  The moments will add up."

I am not even to fifty yet.  I should just chill out and let the little graces accumulate.  I am hoping at the end of this I won't do this {as much} anymore.  You know, beating myself up over the small stuff and whatnot.

After all, "life-changing gratitude does not fasten to a life unless nailed through with one very specific nail at a time."

And so, I begin again.  Counting the gifts.  Counting all as a gift.  Worrying less about what is written and just getting to writing it all down.  In the midst of the chaos there is charis {grace}.  I am finding it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


26.  Wise words from the communion of saints...

"God hasn't given up on you.  He can still do great things for you, in you, and through you.  God is ready and waiting and able.  What about you, and me?" - Peter Marshall, "Disciples in Clay," Mr. Jones Meet the Master

Monday, March 26, 2012

Little Graces

7.  Communion Liturgy.

It is huge that I would include this, as liturgy used to frustrate me.  Someone I worked with long ago was very rigid about liturgy.  I asked why it was so important.  His answer? "It just is."  Teachable moment totally missed.  I "rediscovered" liturgy in seminary and am captivated by it now.  I love the idea that I am speaking words long spoken in the church.  I ♥ a good creed or prayer.  I especially love the old liturgy we use at the church I attend now.  One section ends with the simple words, "We are yours, dear Lord."  Beautiful reminder, that.

8.  Chipmunk on the porch!

Precious little rodent.  Also makes me smile because Jason tells a story of chasing, catching and, subsequently being bit by a chipmunk growing up!  This is funny only because he told his dad he was going to chase and catch it and his dad didn't think it was a good idea.  Jason could not be deterred, so his dad told him to go ahead.  Life lesson learned, I'd say. :)

12.  Hubs in a blue shirt and tie this morning.  *Dreamy*

13.  Fun notebook for the counting of 1000 blessings.  Flowery, I know.  A departure from what I would usually choose (it was between this and a brown burlap number.), but perfect for this endeavor.

I am excited about filling the pages and hope you'll join me on this journey.  It has already been a blessing.  And a little lot convicting.  And challenging.

"Every worthwhile accomplishment, big or little, has its stages of drudgery and triumph; a beginning, a struggle, a victory." - Ghandi

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Start...

A start on the writing down of one thousand gifts/graces/joys in my life...

1.  Smiles from my little guy when I pick him up from daycare each day.

Whatever the day behind me was - good or bad - disappears with that smile.  His smile reminds me of all things good.  It revives.  It relieves.  It reassures.  It does all of these things for me and more.

2.  A quick kiss from the hubs everyday when he comes home.

Needs no explanation, really.  But I'll just say it really is the little things like this that make a person feel so loved and secure (and I can assure you I am most definitely not looking sexy at that point in the day!).

3.  Little bit standing at the door pleading, "Doe dide?"  {translation:  "Go outside?"}

Cuteness personified.  Put him on that slide and he cannot contain his joy!

4.  Bedtime prayers with my husband.

I'll admit that I periodically fall asleep as he prays.  He never wakes me, though.  He thinks it is cute and just goes along and finishes praying for us both.  He's a keeper.

5.  Little Pookie.

If you have a little person and have not discovered these books, please find them and purchase them.  So cute. We ♥ Little Pookie at our house and read a Pookie book most every night.  Plus, the Pookster is a pig and that bodes well with this Razorback fan.  Just sayin'.

I'll share some more of my one thousand blessings as I write them down.  I am still looking for the right "notebook" in which to write them.  It is crucial that I find the right one if I am going to count all the way to one thousand!  Priorities, people. :)

Postscript:  Can I just say that the song in my head since I started down this road of rediscovering gratitude and really experiencing grace has been none other than Rocky Mountain High by John Denver?  If you know me well, you know I adore JD.  I was deeply saddened the day he died.  But his music still plays in my heart and on my CD player (yep, still use one of those) often.  It seems he already knew what I've learned (re-learned?) from one thousand gifts.  All of us really just need to go about life "seeking grace in every step {we}take."  Wise man, that John Denver.  Wise man.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

one thousand gifts

I've just finished one thousand gifts by Ann Voskamp.  The subtitle is "A Dare to LIVE FULLY Right Where You Are."  I love(d) it.  Hers is a heart like mine.  A heart that longs for peace in the present and joy in the everyday.  I want to live free and fully myself, so I pretty much resonated with the entire book.  I am convicted and convinced by the whole concept.  This eucharisteo - a life of gratitude, grace and joy - of which she speaks is surely where a life of fullness and freedom begins.

Voskamp articulated what I have long believed to be true:  sometimes, most of the time, we must fight for joy.  And what better avenue than gratitude?  I'll share more thoughts and quotes as I unpack and put into practice what I have read.  For now, let me just encourage you to find a notebook and start writing down the little mercies that come your way everyday.  This is where it began for Voskamp, in a "dare" by a friend to write down one thousand gifts in her life.

DISCLAIMER:  The Wesleyan in me feels obligated to say that I really struggled with Voskamp's theology of death.  Frankly, I disagree with her perspective on death and God's will completely.  At least what I gleaned from first reading, anyway.  But I resonated enough with the whole concept to continue the read and hope that you will, too.  I just felt I should disclaim that part of it all, as she hints at it at points throughout the book.  I commend to you Adam Hamilton's book Why? for a Wesleyan perspective on God's will and the problem of pain.  It is a wonderful book by a remarkable man who is changing revitalizing the United Methodist Church.

Friday, February 24, 2012

What I'm Learning...

"The most important thing she'd learned over the years 
was that there was no way to be a perfect mother 
and a million ways to be a good one." 
- Jill Churchill

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Love in the Routine

"And of course, we must clear our minds of the idea that love is a warm, fuzzy feeling, a cuddly coziness.  Love is much more than warm feelings, lovely as such feelings are to all of us who are fortunate to experience them in one form or another.  Love is also (and especially) action and conduct.  We know as much from the experiences of our daily lives.  A mother loves in those moments of warm emotion when she embraces a child, or snuggles a baby after its bath.  But she loves the child also in the routine of diapering, packing lunches, and cleaning up household messes."
- J. Ellsworth Kalas, All Creation Sings

These beautiful words belong to my preaching professor and friend, Dr. J. Ellsworth Kalas.  He is pious in the way that used to mean something good.  He has read the Bible through almost every year since he was eleven years old, the only exceptions being a year here or there where he chose Christian classics to read iin addition to his daily reading of the Word.  And he is nearing ninety, so he knows the Word.  His is a life informed by that Word and it shows in all that he does.  I can assure you that it is just as much of a treat (or more!) to hear him speak as it is to read such beautiful words as those above. As if often the case with a word spoken or written by him, I am both encouraged and challenged by it.

I find myself encouraged and freed by his words first and most of all.  You see, I am a perfectionist by nature living in the gloriously imperfect worlds of motherhood, parenthood and marriage.  I needed to hear these words.  I suppose I already knew them deep within the recesses of my heart, but I needed to hear them nonetheless.  And from someone I admire and respect so much, well...this makes them all the more real to me.

I am challenged by his words because I often find myself rushing through the routine on the way to something else, failing to recognize the holiness of the moment at hand.  This applies to motherhood and everything else.  I forget what I am always saying to others:  Love is in the details.  I love John Reynolds and Jason and everyone else in my life more in the ordinary moments of each day than in some grand and glorious moment of intimacy when we share a hug or a kiss or a sweet moment.  Those moments are rare, though wonderful.  But the routine repeats each day, so I want to be present in the process.

I actually like the routine and ritualistic side of parenting.  I secretly smiled in those first few months of his life when I was having to wake up at o-dark-thirty to feed him.  I relished in those moments and I believe I was truly present in the routine of it all.  Somewhere along these fourteen months, I've lost that.  I want it back.  Or at least the feeling that what I was doing was showing love even if it didn't look like my {worldly} understanding of it.

Ironically, I think the secret of it all is not to think about it so much.  Just do what you do the way you always do it, knowing in the back of your mind (on your best and worst days) that this is the stuff of life...and love.  Know that you are showing your child, your spouse and all the people in your life that you love them when you just do what you do.  Whether what you do is lunches or laundry or even going to work, what you are really doing is loving the people in your life in the best way you know how.

So relish in the routine.  And when you find yourself resenting it instead (and you know you do), don't beat yourself up too much.  You are human, too...and we humans don't always feel all warm and fuzzy even when we are doing loving things for others.  I don't think the lack of fuzziness makes the actions any less loving, though...

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Photo Update!

A much overdue photo update below.  I aspire to actually blog, I really do.  I am trying to find the time to do so soon, as I have plenty of thoughts and possible blogs swimming around in my head.  These pictures of my little lovey will have to do for now! Enjoy!

John Reynolds on his FIRST Birthday!

Being silly for the camera!

At 11 months old.

Big boy at 10 months old.

My lovey at 9 months!