On Willy Wonka, My One Word 365 Project And Returning to 1000 Gifts

It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation….I Peter 1:3

Is this the way I have chosen to live?

Am I peeking around the corner with great expectation?

or am I waiting, crouched, arms over head, for the next blow?

I want to unfold the paper of life like Charlie unwrapped the silver from his Wonka Bar…

slowly…

carefully…

fully expecting to see that bit of gold.

I want to believe against hope like Abraham and Sarah,

and when hope seems bankrupt, I want to use my resources for others

like Charlie.

To buy someone else a candy bar.

And then when hope is replaced with a gift of giving

anticipation arises for what God can do.

and will do.

and has done.

And what I’ve got is much better than a golden ticket.

Because… I temporarily gave up on my list.

and the picture of beautiful expectation I had experienced dribbled cloudy like a watercolor painting being rained upon.

So I begin again,

a little more humble,

a lot more wise.

Expectation comes in that

His beauty and love chase after me

every day of my life.

Now to pen these moments

with expectation in community with dearest Ann:


91. For the always thought provoking writing of Madeleine L’Engle. “How marvelous is the ritual of the Holy Mysteries, the Eucharist, where we joyfully eat love.”

92. Flourescent ribbons unfurled across the sky.

93. Giant crunch hamburgers.

94. Laughing birds.

95. Chocolate pudding treat, unexpected in my bag.

96. A novel in my heart…

97. A daughter who says that everything is more fun with her brother around.

98. Neighborhood mysteries.

99. Big answers to small prayers.

100. New job opportunities.

101. Sand between my toes…in January…in the Chicago area!

102. A magical day of mystical findings for my book! Pioneer Chapel.

103. A packet of goodies from a stranger!

104. Hearing sandhill cranes a mile high in the sky.

105. Glitter in an old woman’s hair.

106. Buying a brand new $200 sportscoat at Penney’s for my husband for only $10!

107. Writer’s Calendar and day planner at the Dollar Store.

108. Daughter gets the coveted part of Elizabeth Bennett at Youth Theater!

109. Guest posting at my dear friend Renee’s!

Sharing with Michelle:

…sharing a playdate with Laura:

….finding heaven with Jen:

…hanging out with L.L.: On In Around button

Epiphany Quest! – A Blogging Neighborhood Bible Study – Week 1

After praying and fasting I feel that the Holy Spirit has directed me towards a theme for the Blogging Neighborhood Bible Study in 2012. I take this task with trembling and trepidation, for I recognize the weight of responsibility I carry in sharing God’s Word with others…but o that I would cause a hunger and thirst for a desire in you, dear reader, for your own personal quest. O that you would desire to journey towards the epiphanies He holds for you and you alone, your own Pilgrim’s Progress of sorts.

So, as simple as it may seem, the theme for this year’s Bible Study is found in the name of this blog. Journey Towards Epiphany. And its name is so appropriate this week, in that January 6th is the ancient Christian celebration of Epiphany. The celebration that marks the first Gentiles to find Him as Christ the King.

I am overwhelmed by the mystery of it. Who were these men? How far did they travel? What does it all mean to me? And the first thing that I am struck by is their willingness to listen to their hearts. These men were more than likely Zoroastrians, but more importantly they were Truth seekers. They went beyond the common knowledge of those around them to find what they knew to be true.

You see, the Gospel had been prophesied to the Magi in the book of Daniel during the time of King Nebuchadnezzar, and the Magi of the New Testament likely studied what Daniel and his friends predicted. Just as Abram was called from pagan moon worship to follow a personal God, a Father, these men were called from earthy magic and from astrology to Astronomy. For the Heavens delcare His Glory (Psalm 19)…and they saw it. They had heard about the Truth, and they recognized it.

We only see what we seek for. Many things go unnoticed simply because we have not determined to notice. Days go by without really living; errands and laundry, and work lived without intentional seeking. Ann has inspired me to notice gifts…and my life is richer for it. Now, I hope to inspire you to notice the leading of the Magi in you.

There is a wise man in all of us. One that has seen or heard some “Truth”, something that causes our spirit to cry out “Yes!” I encourage you to take a moment to remember. What was that last morsel upon which your spirit fed? The last bit of Truth that sparked a flame? Now fan the flame.

For the Magi, that bit of Truth was what they heard from previous generations about a coming King. And the more they sought the Truth, the more they found Him. For when we seek Him we will find Him when we seek Him with our whole heart. (Jeremiah 29:13) Friend, what can I say to implore you and I to seek Him with our whole beings? For when we seek Him, we will find Him. Seek and you will find. Knock….pound on the door…until it is opened. (Matt. 7:7-8) For our determined purpose is that we may know Him. (Phil 3:10)

Do you know Him? Do you want to know Him more? Quest for Him. Live from epiphany to epiphany. Feed on Him as He is the Bread of Life. Thirst for Him as He is Living water, and you’ll never thirst for anything else again.

Seeking scriptures:
Deut. 4:29
Pro. 8:17
Isaiah 55:6
Jer. 29:13
Matt. 7:7-8

Luke 11:8-10
Luke 15:7-9
Acts 17:26-28

If you care to share, what was your most recent epiphany?

Sharing with Ann and Jen and Shanda

A Star, A Sage, A Shepherd and An Innkeeper – Day 12 Christmas Photo Scavenger Hunt

Blue starlight shafts through dark-and-dusty cave
illuminating child-yet-King.
The Heavens declare His glory.

Three wise men travel months, perhaps years
to find Him – experience Him,
bringing gifts fit for a King.

Shepherd’s work is interrupted abruptly
by skies full of angels
singing His praise.

An innkeeper misses the chance of a lifetime
to host the important human ever.
He shuts the door on opportunity.

“I can’t, there’s no room for you,” he objects
“I’m full already, and I won’t turn myself out.”
No Vacancy sign flashes red.

It never knocks again, this chance to host a King.
And I wonder…which of these four characters
am I?

Starlight declaring glory? Boldly announcing His coming?
Wise sage searching Him out? Bringing gifts?
A shepherd recognizing importance? Dropping everything to see?
or an Innkeeper full of everything and everyone? Turning Him away?

May I shine forth His glory to a dark and dusty world.
May I seek Him, no matter how long–until I find Him.
May I allow myself Divine interruptions to capture a moment.
May I never turn Him out of my home, because there’s no room for Him there.

Congratulations Dana from DRGT/Just Wondering. for your exquisite picture of your advent calendar…

There were no submissions for the prompt snowflake, but you still have until tomorrow for your submissions for a nativity…Can’t wait to see your pictures!

The linkup will be through 7Am tomorrow. I will go through the posts and gather the pics for the correct days. Thanks so much for your participation, this has been fun! Link up your post featuring a photo with a theme listed above. Include my blog button, and visit other “hunt” blogs. Stop by tomorrow to vote for your favorite “nativity” picture. Have fun! (Blog links must be provided before 7:00 AM CST, in order to be voted on 🙂 ) I have no idea why the number of links doesn’t update…There are participants!



Grace Like A Snowflake… Day 11 Photo Scavenger Hunt

Snowflake 1

full of grace. Hail Mary full of grace.

i feel grace-depleted. what little i had left
has melted on my nose tip like a lone snowflake
this warm winter season.

my husband needs grace. i have none.
my children need grace. i’m empty.
no. more. grace.

an angel came to Mary.
with a proposition and a plan.
she said yes.

God’s Word comes to me
with a proposition and a plan.
i say no.

Mary said yes.
she was full of grace.

i say no
i am replete of it.

awake. repent.
say yes.

graceful.

1. The Journey Advent photo comes to us from Dana at DRGT/Just Wondering. Her beautiful calendar comes from Ann Voskamp’s 15 year old son, who made these beauties so that he’d have money to donate to Compassion.

2. The Jesse Tree Advent photo comes to us from Blue Cotton Memory. She writes of raising Boys to Men.

3. The Traditional Advent photo comes from Christina at To Show Them Jesus. She writes about her experiences as a home schooling mom.

4. The German Advent calendar photo comes from me. 🙂

Thanks everyone for your participation!

I know that this week will be busy for all of us, so I’ve decided to post the week’s photo prompts:

Wednesday – Advent Calendar
Thursday – Snowflake
Friday – Nativity

The linkup will be through Friday. I will go through the posts and gather the pics for the correct days. Thanks so much for your participation, this has been fun! Link up your post featuring a photo with a theme listed above. Include my blog button, and visit other “hunt” blogs. Stop by tomorrow to vote for your favorite “gift” picture. Have fun! (Blog links must be provided before 7:00 AM CST, in order to be voted on 🙂 ) I have no idea why the number of links doesn’t update…There are participants!

Linking with my dear Emily:

and with the amazing poets at dverse

Advent-ure – All Roads Lead To New Glarus (Even here!!) Day 10 Photo Scavenger Hunt


Advent – the coming or arrival of something extremely important.
What could appear less important than a baby born in a stable-cave?
and yet
the significance of this night moved stars to proclaim His coming.
the planets aligned, so to speak.

I have been on an adventure.
A Journey toward the coming or arrival of something extremely important.
This is why I most identify with the Wise Men in the Nativity Story.
I am searching and looking for Him.

Today’s prompt is to share a photo of your advent calendar. Whether you have a candle wreath, or pockets filled with felt objects to place in a nativity or on a Christmas tree, I’d love to see how your family marks the time until this coming of Someone extremely important.

I received this beautiful advent candelabra as a Christmas gift from my parents. It’s imported from Germany, but it was purchased in, you guessed it! New Glarus. Even this part of my journey from advent to epiphany follows the New Glarus road.

I’ve written a poem about this journey, called Journey From Advent to Epiphany.

There were no entries for the Salvation Army bell ringer.

The winner for the picture of the gift was Debbie from Heart Choices.

I know that this week will be busy for all of us, so I’ve decided to post the week’s photo prompts:

Wednesday – Advent Calendar
Thursday – Snowflake
Friday – Nativity

The linkup will be through Friday. I will go through the posts and gather the pics for the correct days. Thanks so much for your participation, this has been fun! Link up your post featuring a photo with a theme listed above. Include my blog button, and visit other “hunt” blogs. Stop by tomorrow to vote for your favorite “gift” picture. Have fun! (Blog links must be provided before 7:00 AM CST, in order to be voted on 🙂 ) I have no idea why the number of links doesn’t update…There are participants!



Hear Those Bells? – Day 9 Christmas Photo Scavenger Hunt

Salvation Army worker
Today’s prompt is a Salvation Army Bell Ringer. There’s nothing more “Christmasy” than hearing a Salvation Army bell ringer. I wonder if you’ll take a look at my past with me? A stroll down memory lane if you will…

I had the most beautiful upbringing in the whole world. Part of this heritage includes a family with its roots entrenched in the Salvation Army. My father, the eldest son of Salvation Army officers started his young family where his foundation lay…at the SA. My mother had her life changed when at 15, after a Billy Graham crusade, she filled out her followup paper work with SA for Saint Ann’s Catholic Church, and the Salvation Army showed up at her door. I have a plethora of family members that has served as officers of the Army and are now retired. As someone who has had the pleasure of watching their lives from the inside, let me tell you, they do the most good.

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My own spiritual formation took a turn when I was 14. An uncle from my mother’s side started a non-denominational church and we began attending there. However, there have been key moments in my life when I have found myself right back where I started…at the Army. Two times stand out in particular. Once was the Thanksgiving when my father encouraged my family to help serve Thanksgiving dinner at the corps they were attending. My children were all tweens at the time, and at first they were a little annoyed that our family traditions were going to be “interrupted”. But, by the end of the dinner, I can honestly say that they were truly more grateful for things that previously they had taken for granted.

The other time that stands out in my mind was around the same time as the first. We went to church with my parents who were then attending a Salvation Army church in Janesville, Wisconsin. The Army has much more conservative services than my children were used to, and the congregation there was much more…shall we say ecclectic? First, a lady with a FULL BEARD, stood up and gave a testimony. I gave the “look” to my boys, more than once, and eventually they were so intrigued by her praise to God and to the love and acceptance that the rest of the congregation showed that her that they were okay on their own with my evil eye. Next, a lady with an oxygen tank got up and played the accordian for special music. I’ll never forget my daughter whispering very sincerely and innocently in my ear, “This is better than a circus!”

…and then I realized. How many churches would celebrate these dear ones? Would mine? Even more importantly, would I? I am reminded of an old song we used to sing when I was in the Army. “To love the unloved, in the service of the Lord.” It is service to the Lord when I love those the world calls unlovely. And the unlovable aren’t just those who look different than we do…or those who smell different than we do. Sometimes they are the co-worker in the cubical next to us, or dare I say it, the person we are living with…

Please consider giving to one of the most nobel causes on the planet. The Salvation Army has made the world a better place in so many ways. Won’t you help them do it? If you are interested in contributing to my virtual kettle, you can click here.

Ham barely beat out turkey for most popular Christmas Dinner meat. Today’s poll is for the best picture of a Christmas present.

I know that this week will be busy for all of us, so I’ve decided to post the week’s photo prompts:
Monday – A Gift
Tuesday – Salvation Army Bellringer
Wednesday – Advent Calendar
Thursday – Snowflake
Friday – Nativity

The linkup will be from now through Friday. I will go through the posts and gather the pics for the correct days. Thanks so much for your participation, this has been fun! Link up your post featuring a photo with a theme listed above. Include my blog button, and visit other “hunt” blogs. Stop by tomorrow to vote for your favorite “gift” picture. Have fun! (Blog links must be provided before 7:00 AM CST, in order to be voted on 🙂 ) I have no idea why the number of links doesn’t update…There are participants!



Waiting. With Anticipation. – Day 8 Photo Scavenger Hunt

Waiting. With Anticipation.

Each day, children wait
to open the presents under the tree.
Cradling pacakges,
they check them for size and shape,
weight and balance.
Shaking them to discover
if they make a sound.
Breathless, trembling,
they anticipate opening day.
Filled with awe and wonder.

Each day, we wait
to find the gifts He’s left behind.
Cradling His love letter,
We whisper words of praise,
singing songs of delight.
We search for unexpected
objects of beauty
in places so obvious
That they aren’t noticed anymore.
Breathless, trembling
We are filled with awe and wonder.

Giving thanks today with Ann:

84. Snow, a Christmas miracle.

85. Grown up daughter baking Christmas cookies while listening to music that I haven’t asked to listen to…someday I’ll miss this…

86. Nutella and pretzels.

87. Seeing daughter bring the house down in Christmas production.

88. Looking at the beautiful stage my son helped design for the production at church.

89. Going out to eat with two of my favorite guys…

90. Cutest present under the tree.

Congratulations to Jennifer at To Tell You The Truth for winning the angel photo prompt!

I know that this week will be busy for all of us, so I’ve decided to post the week’s photo prompts:
Monday – A Gift
Tuesday – Salvation Army Bellringer
Wednesday – Advent Calendar
Thursday – Snowflake
Friday – Nativity

The linkup will be from now through Friday. I will go through the posts and gather the pics for the correct days. Thanks so much for your participation, this has been fun! Link up your post featuring a photo with a theme listed above. Include my blog button, and visit other “hunt” blogs. Stop by tomorrow to vote for your favorite “gift” picture. Have fun! (Blog links must be provided before 7:00 AM CST, in order to be voted on 🙂 ) I have no idea why the number of links doesn’t update…There are participants!



There were no entries for the outdoor lights photo contest.

and with dearest Michelle:

Angels We Have Seen On High – Day 6 Photo Scavenger Hunt


Today’s Prompt: An angel

Congrats to Kateri from Dandelion Haven for winning the Christmas Ornament Photo Contest!!

Here are the entries for yesterday’s star prompt:

Both entrants have been featured already on this scavenger hunt.

1. Emilie at Capturing This Lifesong with Star of Wire.

2. Frances at Frances with Gold Star.

Link up your post with a picture of an angel! Include my blog button, and visit other “angel” blogs. Stop by tomorrow to vote for your favorite “angel” picture, and find out what tomorrow’s photo hunt will be! Have fun! (Blog links must be provided before 7:00 AM CST, in order to be voted on 🙂 ) I have no idea why the number of links doesn’t update…There are participants!



Where Is My Star? – Day 5 Christmas Photo Scavenger Hunt

Please scroll down to vote on your favorite photo and/or participate in today’s photo prompt: Star

I want to find the Christ Child.
…to be the Shepherds, the Wise Men,
A donkey in the the stable, for all I care
I just want to be found there.

I want to see the blue light of night
pierced through with white star beam.
…to hear Heavenly hosts sing
the song of Heaven’s theme.

The religious were looking too
…looking for a man of power, a king.
But He came as humble God-man child
And they missed Him, looking past Him all the while.

It must have seemed so anti-climatic
after all their studying and seeking
A baby born amidst whispers of shame
and impropriety…without fame.

And hindsight’s 20/20
It’s so easy to see the handwriting in the sky
after history has been written.
…but in present blind eyes are smitten.

And I sweat to search
with every fiber of my being
I look, I peer…is He in History?
Literature, Science, Prophecy?

After all, the Magi found the path
to God in Science and heathen religion.
And Mary said yes to imagine
herself Mother of God and to the loss of her reputation.

The Wise Men still had to travel
through desert and discomfort
after the excitement of the start
and after their homes they departed.

Following yonder star
From afar. I am far
Far away from where I long to be.
Where is the star that will lead me?

Will I be willing? Willing to study
Hard and long?
Willing to travel far and wide?
Willing to put my reputation aside?

Am I willing to knock over sacred cows?
Put preconceived ideas away?
To find Who He really is,
And not Who I make Him to be?

Lord, give me the pure faith of Mary,
The simple trust of Shepherds,
The tenacity of Wise Men
Following Yonder star.

Please vote on your favorite ornament picture.

A little about the contributors.
1. Reflection is found at my friend Shanda’s place: A Pause On The Path

2. Frosted Church is found at Emilie’s place: Capturing This Lifesong

3. Homemade Ornaments is found at Elizabeth’s place: Just Following Jesus

4. Peace Pillow is found at Dolly’s place: Soul Stops

5. Nature’s Best is found at Kateri’s place: Dandelion Haven

6. Hello Kitty Ornament is found at Melanie Joy’s place: Our Journey Home

Link up your post with a picture of a star! Include my blog button, and visit other “star” blogs. Stop by tomorrow to vote for your favorite “star” picture, and find out what tomorrow’s photo hunt will be! Have fun! (Blog links must be provided before 7:00 AM CST, in order to be voted on 🙂 ) I have no idea why the number of links doesn’t update…There are participants!



storytellers button rust

Oh Come Let Us Adorn Him – Day 4 Photo Scavenger Hunt

Today’s prompt? Christmas ornament


There are many literary references to our life as a tree. Psalm 1, for instance, says we are to be like a tree planted by rivers of living water. This time of year, many of us decorate trees. We do so because trees are a symbol of life in the midst of a lifeless winter. We do so because the One Whose birthday we celebrate died on a tree to bring us everlasting, evergreen life. And we adorn these trees with beautiful ornaments. With splashes of red and the glimmer of silver and gold, we celebrate all that a tree of life in the midst of death signifies.

I guess it goes back to the Garden. We, like that first man and woman search for the tree of life, in the midst of a desert barren from all green….and now we find it because He has come!

As I decorate my tree this Christmas season, I’m asking myself, “How do I adorn the tree of my life? Does my tree bear fruit? Does my tree bear love, joy, peace, faithfulness, gentleness, meekness, self-control? Ga. 5:22-23. Or, do I bear such little fruit that I am cursed and die?” Mark 11:20.

Lights are the foundation of my tree, I always start with them first. To be quite honest, there are many years when I’m tempted to stop there. The tree with lights alone is a beautiful sight. But how much more beautiful it is, when I begin to adorn her with ornaments…Ornaments with significance. Each one has a memory, and remembers a significant time and place. And such is the case with our own lives. Will we allow ourselves to have the ornament of wisdom? Pro. 3:22. Of meekness and grace? Let His character adorn the tree of your life and shine the light of His love everywhere you are today and this holy season.

Congrats to Amy from Make Me A Mary who won the wreath contest with the Book Lover’s Wreath.

There were no entries for the candy cane prompt.

Link up your post with a picture of an ornament! Include my blog button, and visit other “ornament” blogs. Stop by tomorrow to vote for your favorite “ornament” picture, and find out what tomorrow’s photo hunt will be! Have fun! (Blog links must be provided before 7:00 AM CST, in order to be voted on 🙂 ) I have no idea why the number of links doesn’t update…There are participants!