Monday, December 12, 2011

Counting Gifts

Like most folks, we've been busy this time of year.  Fun busy.  And though I am tempted to go on about this day, I will pause long enough to reflect here on a few of the many gifts from the passing of these days.

Our boy and girl the night of their Christmas concert at Our Lady of the Lake
how grown and handsome looking he was
seeing him do well at something I didn't even think he would try
her focus and her joy and her sparkle

My love coming up with a Stay-cation list for us
his planning and driving and doing and smiling

the Christmas wonderland at the Grotto's Festival of Lights
the gospel gently spoken through speakers along
paths lit with luminaries
hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights
candles representing lifted prayers
the aromas of barnyard animals and churros y chocolate
the decorum and reverence of a Catholic chapel
evangelical indeed

My love calling this Christmas his favorite
our littles stating, 'but Christmas isn't here yet"
he and I saying, "ah, but it's advent"
Christmas is here

the joy in giving

the anticipation of this advent week

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I won't reinvent the wheel...

and neither will you.

I gave thanks for this fact last week.  A brother asked for the back-story, and you know I'm happy to oblige, so...

I read a lot and contemplate even more.  I read the stuff of thinkers, contemplators like me.  People like us  think we're going to stumble upon some great secret of the universe, secrets we are, of course, morally bound to share with the commonality.
These so enlightened have written the books that teach all things from 'new math' to how to listen to music or look at art.  They teach there's a right way to feed a baby, organize a closet, eat food (or not eat it), love your familiy and be nice to strangers.  If you read them, and really get them, you'll be happier, smarter and more generous.
Yeah, everyone's after a formula for perfection, and just as many are happy to sell one.

I always read with an open mind but, not being one to fall for snake oil, I never worried about being unduly influenced.  I figure it's likely someone has unlocked some truth in a way I haven't.  But lately, I've been unlocking another kind of truth... at least as it pertains to all that is really true,  it's all been said before.  All this stuff I read.  It's not dejavu, it's not that I'm smart, it's that Someone Else already figured it out and wrote it down, or passed it along some other way.  We've all been beaten to the punch, we thinkers.

Turns out if you want to be good at math, you have to do math.  Wanna be a great piano player?  Practice makes perfect, yes it does, and lots of it.  It's easier to keep stuff in order if you have less stuff to keep in order.  If you eat too much, you'll get fat... especially stuff like Twinkies.  God didn't make Twinkies.  Babies need to eat and it's good to hold them.  We don't need a lot of stuff to be happy.  We should give more than we do.
 What's worth doing is hard to do, and it only gets done by doing it.

And then there's this:
"whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgement"
"whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery"
"let your 'Yes' be 'Yes', and your 'No', 'No'.  For whatever is more than these is from the evil one."
"if anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also."
"give to him who asks you , and from him who wants to borrow form you do not turn away."
"love your enemies"
"do good to those that hate you"
"when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing"
"when you pray go into your room, and when you shut your door, pray to your Father... in secret"
"if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you"
"when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face"
"where your treasure is there your heart will be"
"no one can serve two masters"
"do not worry about your life"
"do not worry about tomorrow"
"judge not"
"narrow is the gate"
"difficult is the way"
"every good tree bears good fruit"

The words in red.  There's more where that came from, I just gave a sampling.  If I read the red...

What more is there, really?

Someone invented the wheel.  It's perfectly round with perfect spokes.  It's.... perfection.  It cannot be improved upon.  We can talk about that wheel, sure, but it's not in need of any re-design.  It's fine to use new words to talk about that wheel, so long as the new words are, in fact, describing the wheel.  A wheel is a wheel.  It gets reproduced yes, but not reinvented.  As long as it's made from the original design and model, it'll roll.
So that's the story.  Radical?  Yes.  New?
Not a chance.

and still counting in the thousands...

free, simple devotional thoughts and prayers
kids learning the discipline of devotion

the only tangible connection I have to my aunt
remembering when she made it and gave it to me
wondering if I can do like she did


an old habit, new to him

flickering white gold

best seat in the house

oh, how it does... 
love does

school on Sunday, but not Sunday School
learning together

reinventing?  no, but inspiring, yes!

Thank You Lord for this and so, so much more.  Thank You, O Magnificent One, Creator of all, our great and wonderful Inventor!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Bless This Mess

I've been one to pride myself on a well-kept home.  I like shiny sinks and floors and dusted baseboards.  Clutter makes me nervous and agitated.... ok, maybe it doesn't make me that way, but that's how I feel when I am in the midst of it.
While I have never white-glove tested anyone's home, I've certainly passed my fair share of judgement on the housekeeping skills of others.  Somehow along the way I've developed this weird way of thinking that the best kind of house is the kind that looks like no one lives in it!  Where all the personal 'messes' of it's inhabitants are well hidden from public view.  You can know me, but not by my mess.
I don't know why.
  I could psychoanalyze it and say it has something do with poor self-esteem or unrealized self-actualization or some other nonsense, but I think I'll leave the 'why' alone.  Actually I am under the care of an awesome Doctor.... a Great Physician.  He takes care of the why... or I guess you could say He took care of it a long time ago.  So I have a sickness, yes, but He's got me on the best treatment plan.  In fact, His cure-rate is 100%.

Living, real living, is messy.  He shapes, kneads, sculpts.... chisels us with His hands..... He does this with our lives, by His hands, and it is messy.
But what a beautiful mess.
It turns out the Great Doctor is a Master Craftsman as well.  An artist like no other.
In our lifetimes we will discover, through His unveiling, the most amazing treasures.

I've been thinking about this, these past few weeks.  I'm starting to see things differently.  Did you know jelly jars make the best bug catchers?  Stair landings are perfect places to proudly display legos.  Kitchen counters are the best place to line with fresh ripening harvest.  Collected leaves make great centerpieces. Stacks of music and piano benches askew beckon merry music makers.  Muddy footprints on not-so-shiny floors remind us of latest travels and seasons changed.
Yes, I'm starting to see things differently, and I don't want to trade any more minutes, that belong to creating, for cleaning.

And now counting in the thousands.....

pumpkin creations made with small hands

a beautiful mess with purpose, always there's a purpose...

sister, brother, tape, paper and markers

signs of life

a generous gift, a happy memory, an inspiration


what duty looks like

the barely there,  outdoorsy puppy-ish scent I smell when I kiss the top of his muzzle between his eyes

watching my girl do math

my boy's fingers dancing up and down the keyboard with skill I've only ever dreamed of having

my love finding an Italian chess board treasure at a yard sale
the many games played on it

the memory of my girl perched on the kitchen counter with pumpkin propped between her knees as she carefully carved the details of her canine creation

harvesting, rinsing, salting, roasting pumpkin seeds

my love spoiling me with decadent treats
him being generous with hugs and kisses
how we so often think the same thought,
fold our hands the same way
how we make tradition together

how he does his fathering

long walks on cold, sunny mornings
light showers filtered through afternoon sun

a brother on the mend
family meetings on skype

finding answers in the Word
Jesus' words
how they are printed red in my Bible
how that visual speaks so, so much to me

a new lesson I learned about reinventing the wheel....

Monday, October 10, 2011

1,002 and counting

I am thankful for streams of consciousness that sift through the wrong to find the Right
I am thankful that as the Bride changes, her Husband never will.

I am thankful to wake in happy contentment from sweet dreams that echo my waking reality

I am thankful that one of my first stops this morning was here
I am thankful that she sees what I need to, 
and she helps me to see it too

Monday, October 3, 2011

The reach that's not a reach

It's taken me a long time to get to 1,000 gifts.  Not because my counting is slow (though sometimes it is), but because I'm too often blinded and deafened to His goodness.... how really, really, good He is.

Perhaps some are gifted with the ability to see His wonders right down to the seemingly inconsequential, but I think for most it comes from training the brain to engage,  and the body to respond.

Last night, amongst dear brothers and sisters, my friend asked about rewards in heaven.  Some talked about jewels in crowns and such.  I don't know how all that works, so I didn't have a lot to add.  What I thought about is how I know His rewards from living in His kingdom now.  How can a crown filled with emeralds and rubies compete with knowing Him now?

His mercies are new every morning.  He recycles much goodness back to me, and my reach for counting up to 1,000?  It's taken me over a year, but it's been no reach.  He gives me that and more in a single day.

Gifts #982-1,001

using stuff you kept, but didn't think you would use again

stories from my sister of Holy Spirit moving and calling and using her in the process

a gas fireplace that can warm a cold morning
lit candles on dark, rainy nights

a brother not scared to share his heart
listening ears

soy milk creamer

watching my girl stroking and kicking down the lap lane
the look of her sweet gap-toothed smile and goggles
the way she takes initiative
how every weekday morning I wake to her next to me, because
her daddy put her there
like he's done since she was a babe
how things change
how some things don't

the way my boy kicks up his left leg before swinging
him getting a base hit
coming across home twice
how he tries twice as hard and is ten times more excited
the smile on his face that came from his heart

holy experience

Thursday, September 29, 2011


The atmosphere outside the door is almost magical
a rarely mixed batch of wind and warmth
the sun shooting through leaves still holding green

October winds ushering out September breezes
as inside the cocoon 
this place is in metamorphosis 

Twenty degrees of heat will be lost by Saturday
clouds will cover sweater- bound citizens
and rain will wash under our boots

But today dry winds muss our hair and sun kisses our arms
And He smiles on us as

He changes us too.

Monday, September 5, 2011

An Ordered Life

This Labor Day marks the beginning of a new season for me and mine.  With my two littles now in 4th and 6th grade, schooled at home, I am having to change some ways.  I don't think anyone would think of me as a disorderly person.  Heck, there are some who actually have been fooled into thinking I'm quite organized!  But order, especially of the strict variety,  has never been a strong point of mine... or frankly even something I ever wanted in my life.  Still, as I look ahead to this school year, I can recognize that without daily order, what used to be carefree, unencumbered living becomes captivity to fancy and whim.  Even though I do so enjoy fancy and whim, I just as much dislike captivity.

In the vein of ministering peace unto my family (and myself!), I have scoured toilets, laundered sheets, scrubbed floors, vacuumed carpets, dusted furniture, planned meals, stocked the pantry, made lists, scheduled lessons, placed holds on books, readied binders, sharpened pencils,  marked the calendar, bathed the dog and cleaned the van.
And prayed.
Inspired by a constant conversation I read about, I purposed to also walk in thanksgiving through these preparations.  Let me tell you, what joy!  What freedom!  Scrubbing a toilet has never been so gratifying.
Yes, Tuesday we will enter into our books and studies.  We will have done what we could to make ourselves ready, and we will turn unencumbered open hearts and minds to Him who teaches us all things.
In this may we learn thankfulness.

Counting now from His infinite graces to me and mine...

the last roses of summer
neighboring mercy

gathering to celebrate friendship

a really good day planner

making dinner out of odds and ends

a no turned yes

warm breezes
bare feet
hair clips

being a woman

thoughts of wood and yarn and music

sentence prayers

my crucifix, because
it wasn't the tree that saved me
it was the Man on the tree

holy experience

Monday, August 29, 2011

Thinking on His goodness, and counting....949-965

The Lord's goodness is astounding to me.  He so lavishly loves me.  I am overwhelmed by it..... when I take in His perfection in the sight of massive Oregonian trees, or find myself swaying to soulful sounds of country folk music, or the feel of my son's hand in mine, or..........

the way her lashes curl
her infectious giggle
how he crinkles his nose when he laughs

a dark morning
books, books, books
how our house is such an imperfect mess

hot, sunny summer days
a cool lake nestled in the mountain
kids and craw-daddies
watching our pup swim like a fish, doing what he was born to do, and
loving it

free online planners

praying with her over the miles

heart-to-hearts with my girl

loving him
turning over at night and seeing his still, sleeping form
feeling my own smile

holy experience

Monday, August 22, 2011

Counting the gifts #896-948

painted toes, peasant skirts and toe rings

that rules can be fun!

these reminders:
 "extreme soul makeover" does not exist
it's a process
that's the way He likes it

God the Father is really more loving
more concerned
more generous
more fair
more in tune
more reasonable
a better listener
than I am.


hugs and kisses from my love
his words of kindness and admiration
how so many of my life's dreams have come true with him by my side

summer evening walks, holding hands

that she came and brought her three precious others
the walks and talks
the fun we had
breathing the same air
sharing the same space
a luxury

the way she takes pictures

how my pup loved her like he's always known her
the way a dog can just know

telling her my secrets 
the ones you don't tell anyone else
the ones only she would care to know

how He is her bottom line
in everything

a few favorite memories:

And this just last night:
our boy sharing a difficulty
getting to be mama and daddy with listening ears
mama kisses smoothing the brow
daddy words soothing the mind
him being thankful, and, us even more so

holy experience

Monday, August 15, 2011

The gifts #856-895

sun warmed wood under bare feet
time alone together

the ability to have medical and dental care

ample food to prepare and eat

cooking in a Star Wars apron

friends around a table
laughter and smiles

how simple is good

that happy is a choice
 He wants us to choose it

This is the day the Lord had made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

holy experience

Monday, August 8, 2011

counting the gifts 827-855

a meeting in the park
her vision
Him calling

a friend wanting me to meet her friend
the kindredness Christ brings

girls and boys splashing in water
mamas chatting
dogs smiling

Toby-doo, a Liechty for one year yesterday

my girl giving it her best
playing b-ball with the boys
playing catch at the park

my boy at the piano
trying something new, challenging
frustration, working it out

lessons on prayer!

a lesson from the garden

renewing our minds together
starting with attention

The Word in the evening
The Word in the morning
at my bedside

59 Degrees
a sweater in the morning
it's never boring

Fifteen years this week for my love and me

This promise:

but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.   Is 40:31

holy experience

Monday, August 1, 2011

Where, Oh Where, Has My Gratitude Gone...

Hello.  My name is Kara and I have misplaced my gratitude for over a month now.  Sure, I've seen it peeking at me from around corners and smiling at me from under tables, but I have failed to catch it and spend some quality time with it.
Just today, I have managed to stealthily snatch it up and turn it upside down, shaking bits and pieces of remembered thankfulness from it's gleeful grip.

This is what we got:

puppy love of the cutest variety!

Sunshine and Moonshine forever friends

Can you believe this man is all mine?  Pinch me!

A basket for her bike.

knock-knock jokes between present opening at Christmas in July

summer hikes with the fam

the love of a good woman measured out

having the fastest go-kart

two favorite, simply beautiful people in my life:
sister and mother in love

some good, wet fun!

family dinners

goofy girls

sister love

cousins, my how they grow!

there's a baar in thaar!

Appalachian countryside

the joy of visiting friends

sidewalk lunching downtown

two favorite creatures.... and the sun!

smelling the roses

really tall trees (and really short girls!) ;>

cool, shady, curvy paths

naughtiness that's kinda cute


fun in the surf

I know I've said it before, but it bears repeating.  Look at where I live!  Look at who I love!  

I'm a blessed woman indeed!

holy experience