Growing Up

This is it.  That sweet anniversary.  My baby’s 3rd birthday and that anniversary of when You were here, so Present.

As Present as the red velvet couch I sit on.

As pervasive as the yummy bacon smell from the California BLT’s.

A time so sweet it awakened me last night at 3 in the morning with HOPE.  Desire.  Longing.  Something I haven’t felt for months.

A longing for Jesus Present in the chaos.

I remember. I had been afraid of how another baby would put stress on our vulnerable little world: a new church, a four year old, a two year old.  I asked a friend how she handled her third and she who usually chats with a subtlety admired by the English, looked at me, bloated fifty pounds, and said: “It rocked my world.”  I took in my breath.  My world was about to be rocked…and I needed Jesus.  Jesus, strong. Present.  Real.

So I started fasting everything but LeAnn Payne’s Healing Presence, Listening Prayer, Real Presence and Brother Lawrence’s short book, “Practicing the Presence of God.”  I knew from Revelations that God’s goal was to make his home among his people. (Revelations 21:3) So I begged, “No more theories, God.  I want to breathe You in and out with my every sharp intake…any less and we will drown.”

He filled my desperation with Himself and it lasted for three months of eating, drinking, sleeping, listening to God Himself.

It was if I had crawled up in that stern on Lake Galilee, storm raging, boat taking on water, but my head was on His heart, ka thump, ka thump, ka thump and I was rooted in peace.

The ancient liturgical prayer from the 100s, “Come Lord Jesus” was the thought that wound its way through every other, commanding them to obey.  I’m waking up hungry again.

Just a few weeks ago, I was living the opposite.

Empty.  Apathetic.  Tired.

For someone who was searching for the Presence of God, I grieved.  God felt farther away than He ever had been and I knew from experience that this had less to do with Him and more to do with barriers I had erected.  I just didn’t know as yet what those barriers were.

Then, we as a family crashed…money wise.  The boat started taking on huge waves. Fear squeezed…into a 36 hour migraine.

But it was Fear that led to the crying out.  “Jesus, don’t you know we are drowning?”

Fear then became the map.  I began stumbling around my inner landscape finding altars to consumerism and greed I never knew existed.  MORE was the chant.  I want.  I want.  I want…and then, “I deserve” the easy liturgy.

Capitalism had moved into the Bread of Life’s territory and I was seeking stale crumbs from the empty.

Ouch.  It is hard to stare sin in the face.

I went underground, clearing brush with repentance.  Carrying a pick axe of the Word. Hard, grunting work.  I feared clearing the surface and then watching the weedy altars rebuild themselves next week.

The roots went deep and I would need stronger stuff to kill the selfishness off.  After repentance, after using the power of scripture, I had no idea where to get that kind of spiritual pesticide.

Despair crept in.

Hope only began to rise as I read, “Man does not live on bread alone but by every Word that comes from the mouth of God.”  I learned a long time ago that you can’t just empty, you have to replace it with Life.  Nature abhors a vacuum.  Could it be that my hunger for more, my hunger for shiny things could be reassigned from stuff to WORD, alive, warm and nourishing?

I began to read Psalm 119 ravenous and the trip became a feast:

The weeds of selfishness ran deep and cried out the promise, “I will walk about in freedom for I have sought out your precepts.” (Psalm 119:45)  Freedom from consuming?  I wondered…what would that even look like?

My painful Self-indulgence, I knew could only be replaced by eternal treasure: “You are my Portion, Lord.” (Psalm 119:57)

A short read later and Verse 133b struck me fierce, “Let no sin rule over me” and yes, I had been slave to that which I have worshiped.  And I could no longer serve two masters.

Then, verse 147 would show me the next step: “I rise before dawn and cry for help, I have put my hope in Your word.”  Ahhhh, here was the key.  Crying out.  Jesus, where are you?  Jesus come into the storm!  The crying out would continue tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow morning as repentance and repetition comes before transformation when the greed is this entrenched.

Monday, my friend prayed over me at the prayer clinic using the Lazarus’ resurrection story, (John 11) and I, still despairing of sin’s entanglement heard, “Summer, come out” and resurrection life began spreading into the cracks and crevices.  When the sin is entrenched, I have found that some of my best weaponry is my friends’ swords”Confess your sins one to another and you will be healed (James 5:16)” has become the key to victory.

I had to take a break from writing…the battle was too fierce to make sense of…to share.  I had to hunker down.

A few weeks later and rest and new life have begun to mingle and the strength to fight with budgets and bills has built and I’ve started crunching numbers for fun.  Yep, you heard that right.  Fun.

I’ve begun reading 7- An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by the hilarious Jen Hatmaker.  How does she make something so painful as fasting so extremely witty?  The girl has clearly got a gift.

“Grayed-down discipleship is an easier sell, but it created pretend Christians, obsessing over Scriptures we like while conspicuously ignoring the rest.  Until God asks for everything and we answer, “It’s yours,” we don’t yet have ears to hear or eyes to see.  We’re still deaf to the truth, blind to freedom, deceived by the treasures of the world, imaging them to be the key when they are actually the lock.” pg. 93.

So, I’ve disappeared into weeks of summertime and kids and the beach and library trips but mostly into the struggle of my own soul knowing that I had to cry out and cry out and cry out.

Out of the desperation, the longing for communion is rising: “Come, Lord Jesus.”

No more theories.  Just Jesus standing in the middle of my storm.

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A Gift from Linda: Chapter 1 From a New Book!

Dear Reading Friends,

It’s a joy to have you visit this space, set aside to lift the Savior up.  YOU are the reason WE are here.  We pray for you often.  And we pray our writing will be a gift.


Have you noticed…..we’ve been writing about “Sabbath” often?  In response to a visible need, we’ve turned our attention to helping you find “Sabbath spaces” to be alone with God. In a concentrated way.  Call it TAWG (Time Alone With God).  It’s easy to remember.  We like to call it “Sabbath”.  And it’s more than Sunday: it’s chunks of time anytime.  It’s Sabbath Living.


In the coming weeks, we’ll zero in on what “Sabbath” time is, who it’s for, and why do it.  We hope to make you thirsty for this life-giving practice as you open spaces for truly abundant life to enter.


Now, get comfortable, decide to spend a little “Sabbath” time with us, and be sure to let us know what happens!  We can’t wait!





“All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions.”   I Cor. 7:32-35


Chapter 1

A Necessary Goodness


How does that sound!  How does it sound to your soul?  Alone, with the Master.  Doesn’t it make you thirsty?


Most of us tend to lead lives of constant mental clatter.  Conversation rattles incessantly around in our heads, our homes.   Our techno-clutter pelts us with a sea of unquiet.



Alone.  With the Master.



Our worlds are forested with the undergrowth of unchecked words and unnecessary information.


Music and talk shows careen carelessly through our coffee shops, infest our cars, our elevators, our lives in general.  Buckets of television words follow us into hamburger joints and airport waiting rooms.  Our world reeks with noise.  We are, all of us, hungry for quietness…for silence…and most of all for God.


Sabbath time alone with God is vital to our noise-drenched selves.  Devotional time is just a beginning…. just whets our thirst if truth be known.  We need more.  And we don’t take it.   So lives skid out of control and spirits shrivel.


We need to invite alone time–find it and keep it .  Our souls need to situate themselves comfortably inside a pillowed circle of silence regularly in order to hear the voice of God and the truths of our own, multi-colored hearts.  Are we exhausted?   Sabbath time will make that clear.


Cutaway Sabbath times with God alone opens the secret door of ourselves to ourselves, and to Him.  He hears.  He knows.  He weeps deep with His knowing.  Stripped of all the subtle ways we “posture” among others, we become transparent when alone.  We hear the truth.  We may enter alone time in fear, but we leave in exultation.


Sabbath time allows us to encounter truths in a way not possible when with others.  We experience the relief of being “real” and looking at sequestered truths and letting go of heart clutter.


My Story


After the death of my mother, I set aside a “Sabbath” at a nearby retreat center for a day alone.  I thought I was “doing well”.  Hadn’t I said so?  I quickly learned I was not.  Tears erupted from some volcanic center, and I let them come.  For l l/2 hours they came: uncorked, unchained, unbottled.  Raw and fierce emotion charged through me with the gale force of a windstorm until the wind began to surge intermittently, and finally died.  There had been nowhere to grieve!



In the quiet that came, my soul gathered itself and began to heal as God heard my lament.  Mountains of feelings were climbed until the end of the day brought peace and calm, and the ability to reenter my world recharged.


A perfect parenthesis between yesterday and tomorrow.


None of us can water a field with a pitcher of water.  But oh, we do try!  I have.  You have.  But our bodies and our souls must be informed they are not invincible and put on notice they will be cared for.



“Jesus!  And did you, too, need so much time alone with God?  It seems so.  This makes me thirsty…draw me nearer…



Turn everything off.  Sit quietly in a darkened room for 10 minutes.  Breathe deeply 10 times.  Close your eyes. You have begun.

Linda Andersen

also connecting with Jennifer Dukes Lee:


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What Happens When We Listen

by Linda Andersen


Blue bowl of sky hovers maternally, marshmallowed with gossamer clouds.  Sunlight splashes: golden gems, gleeful, abandoned to joy.  It’s a recipe for happiness in anyone’s book,


yet my spirit is testy, pity-full, tired.

My strength is dried up like a potsherd” (Psalm 22:15)


I finger masses of blue morning glory twining ‘round my porch railing.


Where did this thankless spirit come from, and how can I get rid of it?  Jaunty, trumpet-shaped blooms reflect blue, white, golden-throated sky.  They are silk to the touch and moist as a young girl’s cheek.  They remind me of grandma.  Her well never seemed to run dry despite extreme hardship.  My well had.


Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?”(Psalm 43:5)

I thought of the past few days and found some obvious clues: people living in our small home with us, changing our ways and shifting our days.  Externally, there was the cleaning, cooking and adjusting.  Internally, I battled for my turf, resisted the change of my established routines.  It was the eternal dance of human relationship…syncopation and rhythm.  I could do without this dance.


I stood, smoothed my wrinkled jeans, and walked to the garden, touching floral faces lifted to mine.  Some buds just open.  Some tight.   Day lilies shoot orange, catch tired eyes.  This is standing ovation material!  But I’m not clapping.


They will shrivel by nightfall, and be replaced.  I think I may too.


Zinnias sizzle, tall with color.  They could bloom forever.  But I knew better.  They, too waltzed with their season of bearing and followed the lead of their nature.  Now in bloom.  Now not.  Now flamboyant.  Now faded and resting.


Yesterday there were no morning glories.  It was too cool.  Even they, it seemed, couldn’t bloom every day.  Responding to inner rhythms, they blossomed and retreated.


For it is God that works in you to will and to act….”(Phil. 2:13)


Yesterday I blossomed.  I did really well–stood proud.  Today I drooped.  So be it.  “Embrace what is”, say the early saints.  Follow the rhythm.  Ebb and flow.  So be it.  To fight is to increase the pain.


An ad came to mind:  “I don’t have time for the pain.”  What?  It made me angry.  No pit stops allowed?  I decided there were.


As for this home, these people, I didn’t have to be the glue that held it all together.  I didn’t sign up for that job.  That belonged to God.  After all, hadn’t we claimed this ground as “holy” when we moved here?  And didn’t that mean “set apart” for God’s work?  Well then, maybe I should let Him do His job.


Morning Glories are honest.  And they are talking.  When they can’t, they don’t.  Whole days they spend in lavish blue indolence,  drinking energy instead of blooming.   I retrace steps– sit quiet in velvety profusion ; hear  God,  “I am your strength and your song.” (Ex. 15:2)


Then, I know.  My main work today is to let God do what I can’t do!


He is “up” for it!  He can do this!  What have I been thinking?  I head for the house, stronger, sloshing ankle deep through truth.  He was (yesterday), and He is (today), and He always will be, world without end.  Knee deep I stride.  Amen and amen and again I say, amen.

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When our Schedule Presses in Close

This story by Linda Andersen is a part of the Sabbath focus we have on Fridays here at a Thirst for God.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall lack nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside quiet waters,He restores my soul.” Ps. 23:1-3

“Hello Friend.  How is your life looking today?  A lot like mine, I imagine.


Each of our lives do look a little different.  And yet, in essence, they are exactly the same:  we’re all occupied.  With something or someone we  “do life”.  Small children make big demands.


Big children make bigger demands.


Life happens.


I have lived through most seasons of life, and still find sabbath times hard to come by.  Still I find them necessary for balance….for ballast.  This surprises me!  I thought when I became an “older woman” I would have it all together. I would have no need for cutaway times of solitude alone with my thoughts and the Lord.  Not so!!


Take yesterday. I could have done a zillion things more “useful”, but absolutely did NOT.  Coffee in hand, I headed toward Grand Haven on the shores of beautiful Lake Michigan.  My plan?   To while away a bunch of hours  alone in the womanly pursuit  of window shopping!  No hurry.  No schedule.  Finding shops that spurred creativity, I strolled: in and out, back and forth:  a bumblebee on the sunny side of the street, not  on a mission.


This was a day of sabbath hours, and different from most of my DAWG days  (days alone with God).  Today, it was all I needed.


Most of my  sabbaths are small, but add up to big or big enough.  Such is the hour I found last week.  I invite you to pull up a comfy chair, get a cup of whatever you love, (do use a beautiful cup), turn on soft music, and spend 20 luscious minutes loving God and life.  Dream..drift…and dabble on purpose .  Accomplish nothing in particular.   It’s more than okay….



It’s Monday.  And it’s May in Michigan.  Sky weeps wet, cutting rivers down blue-gray windows.  Nine days now.  I thump out of bed with a frown and meet this sodden,  day with an attitude cold as the sky.


Then, I think of Sunday.   Sunday was glorious!  Song and prayer and sermon and soulful hugs and strength upon strength as Spirit of God moved on the waters of my heart and shifted and rearrange my spirit.  Communion fed this soul.


Sundays are always easy to love.


But today is Monday.  Have I leaked so much grace?  Already?


On Monday I do errands.  So I dress for town and grab the list which tolls my hours, and head for my car.  What!  All the doors are locked!  No extra key!  Husband is here but not ready for fixing this!  Time ticks.  Anxiety shuffles in and takes a seat beside pity.  I’m surly as I step into his car and race toward today.


Spirit limps.  Thanks goes into hiding.  Rain pesters hard across grimy windshields.  Store to store.  Red light, green light.  One to go.  I stop to pick up an item, and clerk gifts me with a sack.  Sack is pink.  Over the top and girly.  So I poke, curious.  A candle, a hand massager, and bath salts!  For me?  On a rainy day, me?


Sky looks rosier as I finish my errands.  New script now.  What and when and how can I use my “Sabbath sack”?  Thoughts flit–play tag in my head, and I know today is the day!  After all, I reason, play does rhyme with gray!  Today I will pick my time and enjoy a sabbath hour, alone and listening, for God does speak, even on Mondays.


Responsibility balks and brays loud at this.


Two o’clock.  My hour arrives.  The house is empty and it is mine.  I turn the tub faucet.  A warm niagara  pools, filling the tub.  I drop in beads of scented oil….light candle.  Things are looking up.  I fire up the wood stove and sit back, loving the crackle.  Flames leap.  So far, so good.  Now the  music.  I am so ready for this!  Notes tumble and freefall around my quiet room.  I slip into the silky water and make room for joy.


“Father!”  “To think……you would even make it pink!”


Sabbath found me, and it harnessed my soul.  And God saw that it was good.


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Why We Crave the Pause Button

My daughter begs me this afternoon to come write.  The youngest is napping up in the nursery and what mom in love with the play of words could ever say “no” to play together?


We gather pens and notebooks and sit facing each other Indian style on the red couch.  I have my inkjoy  (the marketing has clearly clenched me…just the name was enough) and she has her purple gel pen and we carve meanings in the shapes of letters.


My Daddy loves me.  My mommy loves me.  Nana loves me…She scrawls on and on in the joy of affirmation.  Words that are eternally present on her heart illuminate the page.


I settle in and just write the moment,(the quiet, the sun through the window catching the gold of her hair), when she says, “Do you like my spaces, mom?  Brianna forgets to make spaces with her words.  But, it’s the spaces that help us read.”


Ahhhhh, it is the spaces that help us to read.


And this is what I so often forget:  I need spaces.


I need spaces of time between the slam of life in order to read what it says.


In the rush of life, I so often forget to breathe.  Am I the only one?  But it is in the spaces that I count the joy and breathe it in.


In the spaces, I listen to the wind, the Pneuma breath, and drop my haggard-making agenda…


and am here with the present I AM.


And He is the One who gives me ears to hear the steady affirmation of love He sings over me.

Zephaniah 3:17

The Lord your God is with you,
    he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
    he will quiet you with his love,
    he will rejoice over you with singing.”

Summer Gross


I am counting joys with Ann Voskamp over at

warm sand to sink toes into

watching the sailboats play

puddle jumping at the lighthouse

a town perfumed in roses and suntan lotion

quiet place early in the morning…and He is kind to meet me there

friends and grilled hamburgers and watermelon and kids running through the sprinkler

family field trip to Sarrett Nature Center, snapping turtle sunning


 Also linking with Jen here:

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When you need more of God

“Some Christians believe that being filled with the Holy Spirit is a work the Lord brings to people from above, as if they were an empty pitcher and He pours the Holy Spirit into them, much as one would pour water into a pitcher.


I have a much different image of being filled:  When I was a boy I often went to a spring that bubbled up from the earth deep in the forest near our home.  We boys would go there each spring as baseball practice began, since it was only a few hundred yards above the field where we practiced.


When we would first arrive each spring it would not be running well.  The debris and rocks that winter weather deposited upon the opening would keep the spring from flowing freely.  But as we removed the barriers, the water would bubble up fresh and clear, flowing strong all throughout the summer heat.”


From Terry Wardle’s book, Healing Care, Healing Prayer, pg 102


Gungor with their poetic treatment of scripture: Dry Bones

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When You Feel the Pain of Letting Go

I should be starting dinner. 


I need to write a letter.


I know I could be taking a walk, or “improving my mind”, or maybe even praying. But I’m not…exactly. God has provided one short, giddy sunset for me to drink in each day,


and I miss most of them.


It’s the in-between part of the day–the delicious comma between afternoon and evening when God holds His breath and day slides artlessly into envelopes of night.

I survey the gentle hills framed in my window, and bask in the bold orange of a day’s-end sky. Teal blue clouds embrace. Blazing edges of day wave an affectionate farewell. Day sings her night song, and birds stream overhead, across the sun. I am intoxicated.


As I watch, something slides to the edge of my mind, knocking. I put it off a while longer and watch shifting patterns of gold dust western skies. Blood-red patches of day silently escape below the horizon.


I don’t want this picture to change! I do want, desperately, to preserve every nuance of color, shaped and planed, and painted on a sky outside this window. I want so badly to gild it in gold and tuck it in a private hiding place known only to me. Then I can admire it again and again. Whenever I choose, I can admire it, so fine and so fair.

Orange keeps melting into pots of gold and delicate mauve, and finally shell pink before saying “goodbye”. Suddenly…it’s over. The sunset is gone! Poof!


I sigh, turning reluctantly to the uneasy thoughts worming their way front and center. It’s the “in between” part of life for my daughter and me, too. Dawn is 18 now…. all woman and all child. Like the effervescent fleeting sunshine of my treasured sunsets.


As she left today, I told her firmly she would be home for dinner. She replied just as firmly that she most likely would not. Pulling away again. It hurts, but it’s time.


Feels like bandage ripping hairs from back of hand. Swift, brief, mother pain.


I reach out to catch this winsome butterfly. She eludes my grasp, flaps her wings, just out of reach.


I remember a scene almost forgot. I’m a young mother in a first-grade classroom. Dawn recites a finger-play game in a circle of wide-eyed others. She catches mother eye over and over, and lips spread wide, warm grin ‘round and ‘round me. We’re both glad I came.


Another memory pops. We’re walking in the snow, me and my children. She calls in high voice of alarm: “Wait for me!” How long has it been? I stir uneasily. When did the page turn? When did the leaf fall? All this without my permission?


Now, Dawn is two. Two years old. I’m leaving the house…without her. Her head reaches just above the window sill, and she cries. Tears fall wet down red cheeks, and mother heart cringes. She always wants to be with me! I pull away, impatient at the stage….not realizing I will want this back.


More images. Dawn, thirteen. Leaving. Always leaving. “Hello, Mom”. “See you later, Mom.” Pulling away. It had begun. It would not go backward.


Suddenly I know with a deep knowing: if I would ultimately keep her, I must let her go. It is the way of things.


The pictures fade, meteor-like. I shiver slightly at the cold and at the thought of the future. When she goes, she will carry a slice of my heart.


Sunset is plain over. Curtains of night shut surely. I accept the change and look toward tomorrow. I trace the edge of the windowsill with my finger. A resolve begins to form… intent quickens. I will loosen the ties that make this seasons easier for us both. I simply will. “Go your way, my beauty,” I will tell her. “No more tug of war, I hope!


Thoughts scuttle and scamper. I can no more keep her than catch a rainbow or pocket a star! They’re both strangely beautiful and strangely remote–elusive as moonbeams. Sometimes reachable, sometimes not. Are they both just for a time? Well, then, wing your way. Maybe the holding on is too hard for the both of us. Maybe the letting go will be the final bonding. She, like the sunset, will return in another form, at another time, in the right time…after she has tasted freedom and tried her wings.”


After all, in order to come home, one must first leave.


Letting go, in my life has always happened in bits and pieces. This is one such incident, a moment in time which became one of a necklace of events leading toward my daughter’s adulthood, and my passage into another season.” –Linda Andersen


Linking with these lovely blogs:


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Where I Learned How to do Friendship

I haven’t always been good at friendships.  I decided early on books were easier to get along with.

And if you don’t live with grace for yourself, it is impossible to offer it to someone else.

And she is still the one who is teaching me how.


She was the friend my mom and I knelt down on the pink pile carpet for.  Fifteen years old and I believed I was some sort of reincarnation of Anne of Green Gables.  She had golden curls and lived in a storybook brick farmhouse with birds carved into the upper hall cupboards.  But her greatest gift to me?  Seering honesty.


And so began years full of picnics and high teas, daring each other to splash into fountains, dresses pulled high. We discovered secret streams, watching the crawdads scramble, meandered through antique shops in search of tea cups and scheduled sleepovers where we pulled back our bandaids to show our wounds.


Through college, our friendship provided the laboratory where we struggled both together and against each other to become persons.


When we were 16, we reverently folded open the 1992 Teen Missions poster, smoothed out the wrinkles and poured over exotic adventures: an orphanage in Nepal, a riverboat trip through the canals of England, building schools in the desert of Egypt.


We dared each other to run hard after God.


That summer, after raising our funds, she went to Romania to build churches and I went to Albania to mortar a brick wall around an orphanage.  The God-following adventure never ended and I became an Anglican pastor and she has for the last 15 years served youth on air-force bases in Italy, spreading picnics for hundreds and daring them to lift their faces up to the Holy.


But she has been the one to garden this friendship, tending it with postcards and crossing long distances to hear my ordinary stories, weeding through my years of neglect.

And this has been the quiet lesson: in a facebook world full of virtual friends, the bloom of real friendship requires intentional faithfulness.


Keep showing up to us, she has taught me, even when the connection wears thin.


Tonight I miss her.  She pulled up to the little yellow cottage last week Wednesday and I opened wide the door of my life to give her a taste of the glory that is a Michigan lake-town in early summer.


I slowly unwrapped my treasures:


A long walk beside the Lake, the sun reflecting in a long ribbon across the water,


sesame seed crusted French toast battered with rich custard,


Saugatuck’s charm-packed downtown and taste-testing a white peach balsamic vinegar that coats the mouth in sweetness,


Italian picnic of baguette and pesto and salami on the sailboat slow at 2 knots,


and a dance party with the children to “Save the Last Dance for Me” as we motored past the lighthouse, crowds waiting for the last glimpse of the melting sun.


Joy, honesty, and more joy spilled easily from a friendship where both are becoming Velveteen Rabbit real.


And the gift of showing up for the last twenty years surprised us with the depth of a complicated aged wine, a wine we never would have sipped without the slow work of  faithfulness.


by Summer Gross

Today I’m sharing with Laura and and L.L. Barkat and Ann:
On In Around button

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Thinking about you, my Mama

Today, I’m thankful for my beautiful mama…

Bethel Farrington Myers

Bethel, House of God

All I saw were the loads of laundry and the nightly meal,


I had no idea how strong you had to be to silently offer love.


You carefully tended memories with a metal poker and a billow:

walks along the wet sandbar on ferry beach at sunset,

picnics spread in the orchard  beside full baskets of apples

four lit Advent candles and then sleeping bags in front of the fire Christmas Eve

Roasted hotdogs in the fireplace, a winter picnic,


When I had a bad day at school, you made afternoon tea in Great-Grandmother Pearl’s iridescent china:  navy blue ordinary on the outside, mother of pearl glazed interior,

when my small face was buried in the tea cup, a rainbow of colors shined back.


Your strength was daily fired in the round kiln taken down brick by brick in southern Ohio and rebuilt into a study on the east side of the house.  You and God would wait there and watch the sun rise on our life every morning.  You wept your prayers I would slip by you into the Master bathroom and see you knelt beside the blue couch, face buried in your arms.


Then after breakfast, you folded piles of prayers and dressed us in them,

covering us in God.


You still cover us in God and when you open the door of your heart

we too are ushered into His house.

Summer Gross

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Verna’s Secret Joy

She lives alone in tiny, second-story rooms above a weather-beaten general store and now-defunct gas station that has seen better days.  No one has used them for years.


Verna has been a widow for forty years I learned one Sunday after church.  This wren-like lady without a car is always in church (when she’s well), and  always smiling. “Why, Verna? Why are you always smiling?” I wondered, watching her lean on her cane.


The blinds at Verna’s windows are slightly askew, and the building she lives in looks perpetually deserted and forgotten.  A lone gas pump sits stolidly out in front near the road like a paunchy, middle-aged man with nothing much to do except watch traffic.


The old, sun-faded pump hasn’t served our lazy little community in more years than anyone can remember.  The cost of gasoline still reads 31 cents a gallon.  It seems to remember a time when our tiny farming town boasted enough “live” businesses to keep the road buzzing with activity.  Verna remembers those days well enough.  Now business has gone elsewhere, leaving our village and Verna to grow old together.  But I was about to discover that Verna was not a person who merely sits still and grows old.


I was having some neighbors in, and on a sudden impulse decided to include Verna.  “How nice!” she beamed over the wire connecting our voices.  “How very nice of you to call. I’d surely come if I was well enough.” She had been sick for a couple of weeks up there alone in that tiny apartment. I was sorry, and I told her so.


“You must get awfully lonesome, Verna”.


“Lonesome?”  She sounded surprised.  “Oh, my no,” she bubbled, laughing.  “Why I’m never lonesome.”  Now my curiosity was really aroused.  “You see, I have all my good memories to keep me company–and my photograph albums too.”  “And then a’course, I keep so busy with Mary’s boys.”


“Oh?” I asked, before remembering that she had a nearby neighbor named Mary.


“Oh yes,” she replied. “You see, Mary has 8 boys, and she works, ya know.  So’s I fix supper for them boys every night.  Yes.  Been doin it for years now.  It saves her a whole lot of worry, and gives me sumthin’ useful ta do.


Oh, yes, them boys gets me flowers too, on Mother’s Day.  They’re like ‘m own boys.”


Now I knew this was an unusual lady indeed.  And I began to understand the secret of her youthful exuberance for life.  Verna had found something most people take a lifetime to discover, and it was less than a country mile from her own apartment.


The next Sunday, Verna came down the aisle, poking hard at the floor with her cane.  My husband greeted her, “Verna, I saw the most beautiful pair of cardinals in our tree this morning! They would have knocked your eyes out!”


Her warm brown eyes brightened, and her familiar smile appeared.


“Oh yes,” she chuckled.  “And you know, I heard the most beautiful wren song today.”  She shook her finger in emphasis.  “I get up early every day, ya see, so’s I don’t miss anything.  I like to watch the houses around here “wake up”, don’tcha know.  Yessir, there’s just so much ta see.  And I enjoy everything God made—everything, don’tcha see?”


The secret’s out Verna!  When I grow up, can I be like you?  You don’t miss a thing!  You magnify the plusses I seem to miss!  There’s no need to feel sorry for you, Verna, none whatever.  And you have no time whatever to feel sorry for yourself!  You’re just too busy being thankful for every little thing.


Keep it up, Verna.  We need you.  Your sunshiny ways are bringing God’s light to a whole lot of lives–including mine.

Linda Andersen

The lovely painting of Verna’s house comes out of Linda’s other creative love: watercolor.


Today we’re spreading the joy by linking to these websites:

On In Around button

and Laura Boggess at The Wellspring:

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