Thanksgiving – Future, Past and Present

My volunteers and I sit in the back pew, ready to run down to the fellowship hall and start another carafe of coffee if necessary. The organist plays “We Gather Together” and sights and sounds from my childhood invade my thoughts. The lump in my throat that remains for the rest of the service begins to build. Love Inc of Tinley has offered to provide desserts for the Tinley Park All Church Thanksgiving Service and I am overcome by the simple beauty of it all. It’s true, I come from what some call a mega-church, and I wouldn’t trade my family of believers for all the tea in China. But all of the professional singing, videography and special lighting wouldn’t have made this service any more effective. A simple table adorned with pumpkins and surrounded by food for the local food pantry is the only decoration in this small timber beamed chapel. And now the local Catholic priest begins the “Peace be with you,” ritual. I am strengthened with each hand that grasps mine.

I am reminded of days gone by, when holidays were nothing more than an event created by grown ups for me to enjoy and to celebrate. A world filled with tradition, ritual and security. My eyes now brim with tears. I am grateful for my heritage of godly parents who served in a youth mission during the Chicago race riots, with toddler me in tow. I never felt anything but safe. I long for those days when danger can be all around and mommy and daddy make everything okay.

I remember where and who I am. After all, I have a duty to fulfill, a task to perform. Brushing away tears, I smile at my new friend next to me. We have labored together she and I, talking to people who are desperate in desperate times. Praying with them, and helping them carry their burden. Blessed Be the Ties that Bind. Though storms rage everywhere we look, we have an army together facing the future with God fighting for us. It’s time to sneak out of service and put the finishing touches on the table.

Happy cheerful faces, coffee mug in hand, chat about community events. The room becomes a kaleidescope from those pesky tears again. I am grateful to serve. To sow. Grateful to have hands that can make homemade buttercream. Thankful to have all of the ingredients at home. Amazed at the opportunity that the present presents. Heart to God, hand to man.

I drive to my own church building to pick up my kids. Familiar feels good. I want to hug everyone. Son puts away camera, daughter gathers things and I glance at the table of coats for our Love INC Tinley coat drive. It’s full to overflowing, as is my heart. The future is good when it includes those with whom I walk the walk. He is present in my future, past and present.

The Tick Tock of My Heart – Guest Post By Sandra Heska King for TOYS

Sandra’s Blog was one of the first ones I stumbled upon. She hopes to be a Deep See Diver, and I know that she has inspired me to dive deeper. Her words are like honey, and she always finds practical lessons in hidden places. This particular post particularly resonated with my heart. I love history, and this piece drips with it. If you are familiar with Sandra’s writing you know you’re in for a treat, if you’re not prepare to be dazzled.

Egg salad sandwiches. I’m pretty sure that’s what she served. And sweet gherkins in a glass pickle dish. We probably drank iced tea while seated knee-to-knee at the formica table right here, our backs to the window.

And pie. I suspect we had pie. Or heaping bowls of ice cream.

It was the first time he’d brought me to meet his parents—this couple with a Tow-Low in the drive, a Mercedes in the garage, and a John Deere in the barn.

She showed me her “museum” downstairs—farm implements and pictures and memorabilia and old calendars attached to the barnwood-covered wall.

The whole house ticked and tocked from an array of antique clocks that chimed every fifteen minutes upstairs and down.

In the evening we traveled back to the 1700s as we sat cross-legged on the living room floor. We turned pages of albums and scrapbooks and listened to stories of the past.

“Be careful of the bull,” she warned before we went up to the barn. So when pasture-grazing Bozo took a step towards us, I executed a speedy, though not-so-graceful, dive-and-roll under the electric fence. Dennis, who fed and bedded the resident bull (always named Bozo) when he lived at home, folded in laughter.

We were married six months later. That was more than forty years ago. I grew to love this house and its stories. And there seemed to be a place for everything with everything in its place. But she could hardly wait to move. I was broken-hearted when they finally sold it and built a house next to the creek on the south farm. She only got to live there for a year before she died.

I wonder what she’d think if she knew how God orchestrated a job opening for my husband. How our Georgia house sold on a whim. How we were able to buy the house back and build our own memories over the last twenty-three years.

How we sleep in their bedroom and how those sliding closet doors still stick. How my son grew up in Dennis’ childhood room, the room that’s become my writing place. How the cuckoo clock, though silent now, sits in the exact same spot. How I serve sweet gherkins in a glass dish.

Bozo is gone, and the barn collapsed, but the corn is almost waist high. I try to imagine my husband perched on the gray Ford tractor as he pulled the cultipacker through the field. He was only six, and his feet didn’t even reach the pedals.

I walk the perimeter of the yard and wonder about the old log cabin that used to sit on the site of the Great Lilac Massacre. I see rocks set deep against the fence in places where Elsie Dog used to dig and where she treed a woodchuck, where Rose Dog chased two balls and then flop down to rest.

“Hi! Welcome to the rabbit barn.” I refuse to erase my daughter’s pink-chalked words scribbled on black fiberboard. We once had thirty bunnies housed in cages in the little shed attached to the garage. There’s where the goat pen was, just outside that shed. We had a couple of LaManchas. I often had to fuss at Seeley who’d stand with her front feet tapping on the window of the back kitchen door.

There’s another shed on the east side where my father-in-law raised peafowl. We had chickens out there for a couple years. I miss them. As still-under-the-light-but-moved-out babies, they even returned to spend a night in our bathtub during a power outage.

Our pool is gone. I hear echoes of laughter and the splashing and remember quiet nights when I floated alone and gazed at the stars. Two giant pines crumpled it during the storm that took the barn. I smile big at the memory of my son as he demonstrated how to show a goat. Seeley bolted and ran around the yard with him backwards on her back until she finally skidded under the pool deck, and Jeremy tumbled to the ground.

When we first moved in, I announced they could bury me under the porch. I wasn’t moving again.


Yet there are days I stomp frustrated feet at keeping up with a continuing-to-age-150-year-old farmhouse. Then I remember how we stepped into a whim and how fast God took over and carried us home.

This is where I’m supposed to be, but I know the day will come when I can no longer navigate the stairs. When the house becomes too big to care for. And mostly I dread it. Because the walls seep sacred, and the ground hums holy and the land pulsates with history.

And if I close my eyes, I can still hear time tick.

Won’t you join me on Fridays for a new series and linkup called, “Take Off Your Shoes, You’re On Holy Ground!” or TOYS? Each week a post will be shared about the significance of a place and you will be able to share as well!! Just 1) Write a post about how a place has ministered to you. 2) Add your post to the linkup. 3) Add the button to your post. 4)Visit and encourage your neighbors!


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I Remember You Mama

You were a gypsy queen
who sat cross legged on golden oak floors
guitar on lap, singing about being His “Flower Child”.

You wore bell bottomed corduroys
and wire rimmed John Denver glasses
making even Chicago a “country road” to home.

Your hair was straight
and long and brown, no curly grey
to interrupt its beauty. And you were just that…a beauty.

You made bean soup and corn bread
a special event, ironed cloth napkins
and all with a side of fried okra.

You were crazy in love with Daddy
treating him like the great man
that He was because of the great woman you are.

You hid behind trees, until certain
that I could walk to school
alone. We laughed about it even then.

You exude femininity and womanhood
because you make everything you touch more beautiful.
The world is a much better place for having had you.

You walked out your grief
when you lost your man to the world beyond
with grace and beauty and dependence upon Him.

You hungered and thirsted for more of God,
making all the spectators in the stands
want to join in the race so they could drink and be satisfied.

Because this is who you were,
this is what you are:
treasured friend, confidant, and mentor to all who take time to watch in wonder.

And it has been you and your shadow all along
The two of us being stretched
like the image in a circus mirror.

Like a sundial, the shadow of who you were
encircles the reality of who you are,
because His light shines on you, and He is illuminated

to a lost and dying world
who watch us with eagle eyes.
They watch not for uncommon greatness, but for what you have in the every day:

Jesus made real.
And you do that so well.
We need you and your reality with Him. May I follow in your footsteps like Elisha with Elijah.

Double portion of Jesus
made real.
In private belonging to Him, to the world proving His existence.

Garage Sale Reject

I can’t believe that I’m feeling rejected over a garage sale, but I am.  I really shouldn’t be surprised at the distaste of my customers.  After all, most of my things are hand me downs, garage sale purchases or items I have picked from the garbage, but still…to have people come and look at your stuff, turn around and leave makes one feel…well, insulted.  These are the things I’ve lived with and cried on, the things with which I have died a little and thrown my head back in joy around.

Don’t people see how precious they are?  Pictures that have adorned my wall line a shelf in my garage. They stand to testify of loving words, arguments, cries of anguish and sighs of contentment.

There are clothes I have worn on my journey: a journey through life and toward knowing God deeper and greater than I’d imagined possible, shoes that have taken me everywhere.  They have led me to church to be spiritually fed and to serve others; to home school coop where my children learned to be taught by someone other than me; to the grocery store where I bought what I needed to in order to give sustenance to my family; to the birthing rooms of friends; and to funerals of many whom I’ve loved.

I have desks upon which the pain of my heart poured out the words I dare not speak to anyone, ever; dressers that have contained my trousseau;  books that have changed my life;  bowls I have mixed with love; chairs I have rocked late into the night with my babies now grown up.

And yet the people come and go.  I lower the prices.  People come and go.  I ask if they want things for free.  People come and go…and now the garage sale hand-me downs and the proceeds of my garbage picking with which I’ve made a beautiful home and have shared precious moments, will return from where they’ve come.  To the garbage.  I just hope that there is a wise woman who is building her house,  who will see them sitting on my curb and find the magnificence that I have found in them.


Finding grace with Ann

#4 – unforcasted sunny days

#5 – grace to comfort others

#6 – a husband who puts up with my faults

#7 – so grateful that my garage sale is over… 😉

#8 – growth in the Bible Study in my home

#9 – abundance to share with others

#10 – bringing guests to church

and with Michelle at Graceful