When God Answers Your Unspoken Requests

Life has thrown an unusual amount of curveballs to me, yet I never seem to get an eye for them until they pop in the catcher’s mitt. Because of a series of curveballs, I wasn’t able to purchase my Mother’s Day porch flowers this year. The front of the house looked naked and ashamed without them. I felt like my home’s barrenness proclaimed, “There is no beauty here! Life is too hard for flowers, too uncertain for the permanence of plant life.” Every time I looked out my windows, the empty places where flowers had dwelt reminded me of lack and circumstances beyond my control.

One morning, while pulling out of my driveway, I glanced at my house with longing. “Lord,” I sighed, “I can not buy flowers, but if You could get me some, It would bring me so much joy.” I dared not speak these words out loud. That would seem too selfish. They were heart words, words I blurted out to my closest Friend and Confidant.

He knows, friends. He knows that when life seems void of beauty and your heart seems hard for lack of spirit rain that we need a little pick-me-up. He wants us to draw near; To communicate with Him about the things we would never reveal to anyone else.

I arrived at work that morning, full of lists and ideas, when one of the volunteers mentioned, “I’ve got a flat of impatients in the car. Does anyone want them?”

A smile so big it hurt spread across my face. He loves me! He hears me! He cares about my front porch being a place of abundant beauty.

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You see friends, now I look out my window and see frivolous abundance. I don’t look at the world through impoverished eyes because if He cares about my daily dose of beauty, then He cares about all of my needs.

Unspoken heart prayers are the ones I see answered most and with greatest ease. The Lover of my soul is always wooing me and calling me His beloved..and I dance; dance in His adoration of me.

Counting with Ann:

42. Gift unwanted: broken heart’s tears releasing floodgates of healing.

43. Gift unlikely: long response to letter.

Three gifts in His Word:

44. He has preordained good works for me!

45. Guidance. Luke 9-10

46. Love letters written to me…

Three gifts moving:

47. Fan cooling

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48. Trees in wave offering to their Creator

49. God moving on my life by moving the hearts of others.

Three gifts in your Dad:

50. Integrity

51. Holy

52. Just this. http://journeytoepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/06/14/in-my-fathers-house-toys-linkup/

Three gifts in your Heavenly Father:

53. His artistry

54. His love in the form of answered heart prayers.

55. His boundless wisdom.

Three gifts I became today in serving.

56. Deliverer: getting to deliver dressers to needy single mom!

57. Encourager: called a friend to encourage

58. One willing to make sacrifices: skipped lunch to accommodate friend’s and co-workers schedule

59. Getting up at 3 am to clean house

60. A gift sent: first check from Family Fire writing gig!

61. A gift beautiful: new art at Millennium Park.

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62. A gift loved: Time spent with best blogging friend, Once A Little Girl .

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Three gifts found in light:

63. His Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

64. Rare green traffic lights

65. Display of lightening.

66. (Extra!). Light dances.

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Finding beauty in three things that are difficult:

67. Being in true fellowship with others (always worth the effort)

68. Planning a major fundraiser at the same time as planning 2 new ministries and the Chicago Project.

69. Getting to spend time with the kids since I have no car….

…sharing a playdate with Laura:
and at a new place for writers Unforced Rhythms of Grace.

and with beautiful Jennifer Dukes Lee…
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And with my dearest Emily…

Penny, She Did Not Share Her Thoughts, But Her Life

It was a slice-of-pie piece of land; a wedge encased by two busy highways and a brand new tollway. For a long time, everything in me had been drawn to the house; wondering, yet waiting. When the expressway went up, I wondered if they’d tear it down. In fact, every time my family and I passed by the old farm, I would comment on it. I was certain that it was abandoned. There were never any cars in the driveway, or any lights on at night.

For years this went on, and yet it still stood, a snapshot of the past, surrounded by the present. Recently, while doing research for my historical fiction novel, I found an 1873 drawing  of the house. I decided to pay the home a visit. If I could spend time near the home, maybe I could feel the breath of my heroine coaxing me to finish her story.

As I pulled my car onto the gravel driveway, I entered another dimension; another century. Everything looked untouched. I headed to the back door for a peek through the window when I noticed that there were clothes flapping on a makeshift clothesline stretched out between two branches of a naked tree.  I stopped in my tracks, rethinking my assumption that the house had been abandoned. It was then that I noticed her. Way off in the distance, she was kneeling in a large vegetable garden, grey hair flying with the wind. I was startled, a little disappointed and more than a little intrigued. This was not what I had expected. I began walking in her direction, passing willow tree and vineyard.

“Hello?” I shouted over the ever increasing gale. Nothing.

“Hello?!” I tried a little louder. Still nothing.

“HELLO?!!” I was nearly upon her now, and still nothing. Was this an aberration?

“I must be losing it,” I told myself, “My love for history has taken over and I’ve gone somewhere in my mind that I might not be able to return from.” My heart pounded.

“HELLO?!!” I was now only a few feet away. She jumped.

“Oh, hello!” she stopped her planting and answered as though she’d been expecting me, but nonchalantly, as though I belonged there and as if we’d already spent hours talking and knew everything about each other. She went back to planting as if we were the kind of companions that continue on in comfortable silence.

“My name is Kim, and I’m writing an historical fiction novel about this area. Would you mind if I took a few pictures of your property?”

“That would be fine.”

“What is your name?” I inquired.

“Penny.” Now that I had her attention, I no longer needed to shout through the wind.

“I’m glad they didn’t tear this house down when they brought the expressway through,” I hoped to start a conversation with her, although she didn’t seem too keen on it, she was preoccupied getting those seeds in the ground.

“Oh, the historical society wouldn’t let them. This house is too important. It started as a log cabin in 1836, and they finished it the way it is now in 1840.  It took four years to finish.”

“I see.” I was taking a shot of the vineyard. “How long have you lived here?”

“My whole life. I inherited it from my father,” she answered.

I tried my best to engage her in conversation, but still her entire focus was on sowing those seeds.

I walked toward the house and snapped a couple of shots, and started toward my car again.  Looking back toward Penny to see if she was watching for a wave goodbye.  She wasn’t.  Instead she was kneeling on the rich black soil.  I wondered why that garden was so important to Penny.  She had to be in her eighties.  There wasn’t even a guarantee that she would enjoy the work of her labor.  Here I had come into her world as an opportunity for her to have someone listen to her past, something that many people her age seem to enjoy.  But Penny was more interested in the future, and what it would bring. Her diligence reminded my of an old D. L. Moody story:

The great evangelist D.L. Moody was asked, “What would you do today if you knew Jesus Christ was coming tomorrow?” His answer came, “I would plant a tree.”

How many of us make excuses not to plan for the future?  Not to dream big dreams?  In our minds, we are too young, too old, too weak, too fat, or too ordinary.  Penny didn’t let any of these excuses keep her from looking to the future.

How many of us say that we’re too tired or that something is too difficult?  Penny didn’t use that excuse.  Instead, she bent her eighty something year old body in half on the windiest day of the year and dug her wrinkled hands in black and crumbling Illinois soil.  Just being out of doors took determination that day, the wind wore me down like water on a stone in a wild and rushing river.

But Penny, she was untouched by the world, its climate, and its ways.  It may seem easier to go to the store and buy vegetables, but what do we miss when we don’t understand the parable of the sower?  We miss everything, according to Jesus. It may seem easier to dry clothes in a machine, but Penny’s clothes waved dry in a tree instead.  There was no machine to break down or replace, because there was always a rope and a tree.   What is simpler, really?  To have, or to have not?

Recently, I’ve taken up washing the dishes by hand.  My dishwasher wasn’t working properly and there were too many other things to attend to financially.  What freedom this has brought me!  I am no longer in bondage to a machine, the electric company for the use of the machine, and the repair man for the fixing of the machine.  This seems simpler to me.  In the Christian Classic Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster writes,

…refuse to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry.  Time-saving devices almost never save time..Most gadgets are built to break down and wear out and so complicate our lives rather than enhance them.

Finally, I realized that Penny has taught me more by her actions than she ever could by her words. She taught me with her life. She refuses to complicate her life with what the world deems necessary.  She works hard toward the future.

If someone were to come visit my slice-of-pie piece of land, what would they come away with?  Would they see someone hurried and panicked?  Someone who, although she seems to have many of the world’s most popular conveniences seems to be rushed and burdened both financially and in bondage to these same items?  Would they see someone who is easily distracted flitting from this project to the next without ever finishing any of them?

What would someone see if they were to visit your slice-of-pie piece of land?

 


 

A Call To Worship From A Drunk Man


The air was heavy blue with mist when I heard him singing. Was that my son in the shower? It was not. Did my neighbor have the radio blasting in his warming car? He did not. “Who is that singing?”, I thought. I opened my front door, and there he was. A young man, singing his heart vulnerable at the top of his lungs. The birds were his choir, and the distant train whistle his constant baseline. Together, they were performing a simple symphony, one in which this meander-er both directed and participated. I looked at the clock, it was 5 a.m.

I am half certain that he was drunk, for what other reason would someone be so uninhibited and oblivious to what others would think? But then I wondered, what if I was that full of joy and intoxicated with the beauty that is present in the moment called, “Now”? Because when we celebrate the “Now”, it is then that “Now” becomes present; a gift.

The fragrance surfing the breeze was pregnant with green, and aliveness. What better reason to sing? And what better way to be awakened than a serenade to the world? A call to worship so to speak…”Come and gather, for this moment must not be wasted!” the young man proclaimed with every note.
He was at the end of the block now and the blue landscape had turned grey in the distance, but he was still singing on his journey home….and so will I.

Dissatisfied With Heaven’s Bread

Aspire | The Wave by Brandon Ku (bkuPhotography) on 500px.com
Aspire | The Wave by Brandon Ku

Sometimes we despise God’s provision.
“There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this horrible manna!” (Numbers 22 NLT)
Isn’t manna something to eat?
How we exaggerate when we are determined to be dissatisfied.

Our flesh cries out, “I’m tired of this food! It’s the same every day!
God your provision just. isn’t. good. enough.
If you loved me, you’d provide a seven course meal, with plenty of variety.
This bread from Heaven isn’t measuring up.”

and we say, “I’m not satisfied any more.
Couldn’t you send me a sign?
A miracle? You expect me to chew on the same crust of bread over and over?
…and like it?”

We are like
children looking in full pantry and fridge
proclaiming, “There’s nothing to eat!”

Sometimes we grow impatient with the length and difficulty of the journey
and we speak out against God, and His man.
We complain about the package deliverance comes in.
“I didn’t expect this!” we rethink the path we’ve chosen.

and the serpent of bitterness
brazenly bites leaving behind his mark on our skin and his poison in our blood,
and we question His very name Jireh, Provider.

But He is Provider, and “God is always good, and I am always loved.”
There is goodness in the manna – the “what is it?” bread of Heaven.
There is love on the journey – water from rocks and brass serpents for healing
despite our complaints.

Counting the provisions of the Lord with Ann:

139. A reminder in an art gallery.

140. His Word a lamp unto my feet.

141. A shopping kitty.

142. A day with Mama.

143. Encouragement to be a finisher.

144. A metropolitan afternoon

145. Tiffany windows raining glory on my hair…

146. simplicity

147. The journey of an altar.

…sharing a playdate with Laura:

….finding heaven with Jen:

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

…sharing with Shandra:

My 5 Favorite Cookies – Friday Favorites

5. Pepperidge Farm – Milano…actually I love any Pepperidge Farm Cookie

4. Girl Scout Peanut Butter Cookie – Don’t they bring back memories?

3. Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies – I can’t stop eating these, so I just don’t buy them.

2. Christmas Snowball Cookies – when these are in the house during the holidays, I won’t stop eating them until they are all gone. Thank goodness Christmas comes just once a year!

1. Alexis’ Brown Sugar Cookies – This is a recipe submitted to Martha Stewart’s Entertaining cookbook, by her daughter Alexis. They are EVERYBODY’S favorite. My friends started asking for them by their own name, “Ugly Cookies”. Over a pound of butter and 4 cups of sugar make the consistency like toffee. Yummm….If you click on the photo, the link will direct you to the recipe.

Happy Eating!

What are your favorite cookies?

Friday Favorites – High School Teachers and a Guest Post at Lessons From Teachers and Twits

I started reading and commenting on Renee’s blog Lessons From Teacher’s and Twits and stalked her like a rock star. Her posts are filled with wittiness, humor and occasionally a little heartbreak. It wasn’t until I wrote a post about quitting blogging that I realized that I was even a blip on her radar. She held up my arms as in the story of Moses, and stirred up the blogging community to do the same when I considered a permanent break from blogging.

As a teacher, she genuinely cares about her students…how I would love to sit in her classroom one day…

Speaking of teachers, today I’m over at Renee’s writing about my favorite high school teacher Mr. Reichert. Please join me! I’d love to honor his memory by having you read about this amazing teacher. Plus I’d like to have you tell me something you had to memorize during your school career!

Dear Mr. Reichert.

friday favorite things | finding joy

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

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:

I Want To Soar Like A Spider (Repost)

So, I’ve had a bad cold the past few days….which really stinks because my Mom is here and I had all kinds of fun things planned. All she has done is serve me. I am so disappointed as it is almost time for her to go home. Anyway, in order to spend what little time I do have with her, I’m reposting something from a long time ago. If you’ve never read it before, I hope you enjoy it! It was published in an on-line Chicago magazine which is pretty cool. My son took the amazing picture! Gotta fly…or should I say gotta soar like a spider! 😉


Today my son and I went downtown. He edits video promotions for our church and he needed some good footage for an upcoming conference. So, he asked me to come along. Actually, he asked someone else, but they couldn’t go. It’s interesting how moms are always last on the list…

So we found ourselves romping around the city for a few hours. One of the places at which he decided to do some shooting was at the Hancock building. I wasn’t exactly thrilled about going to the ninety-third floor on the fastest elevator in North America. (It takes only 40 seconds!) The things we will do for our children. But, once we arrived the view was spectacular! It was a beautiful, clear day and visibility was particularly great.

While sitting in a chair waiting for my son, I noticed a spider in the corner of the window…on the OUTSIDE of the corner of the window, thankfully. I wondered how he got up there. Did he walk? If so, how long would it take a spider to walk from ground level to the 93rd floor? Fascinated, I asked my son to take some pictures.

I couldn’t stop thinking about these spiders, and after some investigation I found several of them all around the observation deck. When I got home, I did a little research and this is what I found…and I promise, I am not making this up.

Fellow blogger Mom2Mom stayed on the 15th floor of a hotel across the street from the Hancock building recently and received the following note left on the bed:

Dear Guest:

We request that you do not open your windows in your suite during this time to avoid the annual migration of High Rise Flying Spiders.

A Chicago Phenomenon…..

Lake shore high-rises, Willis Tower and Hahn Hancock are noticing the annual influx of flying spiders spinning mini-masterpieces as high as 95 stories.

Baby spiders release silk from their spinnerets to create a balloon-like contraption. The spiders then use the balloon to hitch rides on uplifting air currents from the lake. The spider is the Larinioides sclopetaria, an orb-weaving spider that is found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. In natural environments, these spiders live on rocks overhanging water. In the city, they have found the next best thing; tall buildings and high-rises. What makes high-rises so appealing is the light shining through the windows.

Thank you for helping us provide you with a comfortable stay.

There are no “rocks overhanging water” in Chicago so they found the “next best thing”. I want to be found as adaptable as these little critters. When they find themselves outside their typical environment, they don’t complain, they don’t sit around feeling sorry for themselves, they adapt. Then they use their spinnerets to create little hang gliders that carry them to the most spectacular view in the city, where they construct a beautiful home for themselves.

May we be like these little creatures, using the resources God has given us to create a beautiful environment for ourselves and those we love. And may our creation cause us to go soaring on the wind to greater heights. May we be undaunted by a change of environment and plans. Yes, it’s official, I want to soar like a spider.

Giving thanks with Ann:

68. Pine cones with a touch of bronze glitter.

69. Snow swirling snow globes.

70. Taking walks with my beautiful mother, downtown.

71. Golden light from a globe lamp.

72. Tis the season to be thankful for your KitchenAid.

73. That I’m feeling better. 🙂

And learning with Michelle:

On In Around button

And I have a playdate with Laura:

A Big Mistake – New Glarus Series – Saturday Morning Serial Linkup

If you need to catch up in the New Glarus Series click here.

firefly
Photo by Matt McGillivray

John and I arrived in Wisconsin on the unseasonably warm Friday evening before Memorial Day. My father was just finishing the mowing on the acre of property. Their home, being an “earth home” had the unusual feature of having grass on top, and the riding mower was grazing the roof at the time. Mama was outside finishing Wisconsin brats on the grill, and I pulled into the long black driveway, shaking away the remnants of memories from the accident. Sue was gone now. After almost a year, Steve had been interested in me, but I told him to go away, and now he was dating someone else. I was surprised at how much that stung. John was unbuckling his seat belt, climbing out of the car, and running toward Papa so that he could ride on the mower with him.

I sat in the car for a moment watching the light turn the trees into black shadows against the almost green sky. Mama’s face showed up in the window. It startled me.

“Are you gonna get out?” she said giggling.

Darkness deepened as the evening wore on, and Daddy, Mama, John and I went to the back of the yard to make a campfire to roast marshmallows and s’mores. It felt as though summer was official, with the first real cookout and campfire. The trees flickered orange and the flames warmed our front sides in the chilly late spring air…and I wondered. What would it be like coming up to Wisconsin, to New Glarus, or living life for that matter, with Steve and the kids? Would it have been so terrible?

Mama was running back from the garage with John. They were going to look for flashlights. Daddy leaned back on a log, “You seem awfully quiet this visit. Is everything okay?”

“I’m just glad to be here for a few days. It’s good to clear my mind,” I answered.

“Mommy! Grandma and I are going to go for a walk in the dark, do you want to come?”

“Okay,” glad to escape my father’s probing, I responded with fake enthusiasm. The first fireflies flickered in a circle around five-year-old John’s head, crowning him prince of the land, for that was what he was.

“Grandma! Lightening bugs! Can we get some jars and catch some?” Mama and John skipped back into the house to look for some mason jars to poke holes in, leaving me to amble across the nearly black lawn alone. Daddy was putting out the campfire, and my hands were sticky from marshmallows, so I decided to go in and wash them.

As I opened the connecting garage door, I heard this, “Spencer and Esther have never caught fireflies. They don’t have a mommy anymore.”

“Yes, honey, I know,” Mama responded.

“I think they might get a new mommy soon though. Spencer said that Kevin might be his brother soon.”

“Really? That would be so nice for all of them!”

“I wanted to be Spencer’s brother.”

The wind caught the door behind me slamming it shut.

I jumped as though I’d been caught with my hand in the cookie jar.

“Hello, you two!” I quickly recovered. “My hands are all sticky, but I’ll help you catch fireflies when I’m done washing them.”

My heart pounded as I went to the bathroom. I heard Mama and John chatting, and I looked in the mirror above the sink. Eyes rimmed pink, and face splotchy from tears, it was then that I realized, I had made a terrible mistake.

To continue on with this story click here.

 


Linking with:
typewriter button med