cold day, warm heart

freezing outside... below freezing actually. Brrrr.

I step inside for to warm my fingers a bit and place my icy mittens on the wood-stove. Venturing back out to help with the work, I have a new appreciation for "warm woolen mittens"!  Wonderful, toasty-warm woolen mittens.

These are a few of my other favorite things from yesterday:

- hot fresh bread with melting butter and honey

- a bit of steamy hazelnut cream coffee with my milk
- the memory of my grandma taking her coffee the same way.  (I like mine, with LOTS of CREAM!)

- holding my hot water-bottle puppy in my coat to keep him warm (He cried missing us whenever we took him inside.)
- my kids coming over to hug me, holding their cold fingers to my neck to warm them
 - hugging my mom and dad often, because hugging is contagious once you start
- watching my husband teach my son how to use the heaviest nail gun
- three generations of men working side by side
- Carhartts, coats, scarves, gloves, mittens, boots ... my boots, a gift from my husband on our first Christmas so a northern boy could take this southern girl ice-fishing
- smiles everywhere, and no one complaining about the cold... all just happy to be outside together
- laughing all day over silly things, like measuring a board and then turning it around to cut it rather than measuring it from the other end... again.

- mama putting on chap-stick, and my dad putting on chap-stick by kissing my mom; high school sweethearts still in love

- flirting with my own sweetheart
- my rugged man... warm hands always, even in bellow freezing temperatures with his old cut-off work gloves
... his wanting me to be there, asking me to come and watch him work, thanking me several times for coming and staying out in the cold air

Simple joys.

Date Night

My husband is out on a date tonight...
with a six year old.

She was so excited getting dressed for her "date".
A little girl and her daddy...

I remember when I was that little girl.

My own daddy took me out on many dates, but a few stand out in my mind, never to be forgotten.

Most memorable date of my life:

A hurried Sunday morning, mama dresses and feeds all her wee ones, and one 5 year old in particular is being difficult. "Grumpy" turns to "naughty". The station wagon pulls away from our tiny home near the seminary and crosses Fort Worth. The drive to church is just long enough for "naughty" to turn to "disrespectful".

My daddy parks the car. We all get out. I don't remember what the final straw was. I probably hit my sister or talked back to my mother, but I do remember my dad stopping in his tracks and saying, "Julie, take the kids on inside. Deborah and I will join you later."

I went too far, and my heart sinks just recalling that moment. I knew what was coming, and I deserved it.

Mom walks across the parking lot with all my siblings. My dad turns to me, takes my hand, and we walk back to the car. He opens the door, buckles me into my seat, drives to a restaurant, and never mentions my horrible behavior. Instead, he orders breakfast and tells me a silly story about tigers chasing a boy and turning to butter.

I didn't get what I deserved. I got my first lesson in grace.

Not a bad first date.

Another daddy-date I treasure came about 15 years later:

I was in college, and my daddy drove all the way from Fort Bragg to Lynchburg to fix a printer and cheer up his discouraged daughter with a paper due the next day. I don't remember where we went to dinner, but I will never forget the hug he gave me before he got back in the Suburban to drive the 4 hours home.

I married a man very much like my dad. My precious daughter is so blessed to have my husband as the first significant man in her life.

So, I am home with boys, my little men.
I could not be happier to be left at home tonight;
because there is something special about a daddy's love.
Seeing her joy fills me with a double portion of my own.

The love of a father...
When a Daddy loves his little girl, he shows the heart of God.

I am loved.

My daughter gave me all the princess stickers.

This evening as I was rocking with my baby girl, she said, "Mama, wouldn't it be fun to swing on a rainbow?" I turned our chair to face the rainbow painted on the wall.

"What happened to all the beautiful princesses that were on your rainbow?"

"They slid down over to your dress. I wanted to give them all to you."

We spun around to face the other wall, and there was my dress covered with her favorite stickers. My sweet girl didn't choose to put them on her own dress; she gave them ALL to me.

We have to MAKE TIME to spend UNHURRIED TIME for the important things...
And, the important things are PEOPLE.

My little girl is my biggest fan, and all she really wants in my attention and love.

For the longest time, bedtime was one of my most begrudged duties. By the evening hours, I'm spent and exhausted. The last thing I've wanted to do is re-read stories, listen to long prayers, and have even longer discussions rehashing the days events and rehearsing jokes I've already heard.

Giving her and my boys time in the evening hours has gone from duty to delight, and the only change has been my heart.

Children say things in precious ways. Tonight my little one told me she loves me, and I would have missed it if I had been in a hurry.

A Beautiful Day for a Walk

The kids and I had a flat tire on the way to church this morning in a stretch on a back road with no cell coverage. So, we buttoned our coats and started the hike back home.

After a few minutes of walking, my mind wandered back to my childhood and the first weeks living in Germany without a car. My parents bundled us up for those January hikes to church from our home near the main base in Darmstadt to the chapel where my father was to preach on Ernest Ludwig Kaserne.

Like a line of ducks... Mama, Papa, and 5 little ones.

Now, I'm the Mama asking, "What shall we sing to shorten this mile?"

"Dashing through the snow, in a one horse open sleigh..." Boy, I wish I had a sleigh. There will be no short cut over a snowy field in Sunday Shoes.

Skirt and heels, dress coat and gloves. I feel I've stepped out of time. For centuries families have traipsed through the snow to meet to worship...

My husband should be here any minute to pick us up... Oh, the blessings of modern conveniences! Two cars, three services. But, there is something beautiful about walking the miles in the crisp air over frozen ground with my children, cheering each other on, "We're half way there! You guys are doing great! Isn't it fun to have an adventure?"

A Moment of Peace

I step outside to plug in the lights just as the sun is setting.

a silent moment
not a person in sight. not a sound.
I alone stand high on this hill taking in the view...
a pink sky. clear and bright.
a few bright stars shining.
white snow glowing soft blue in the evening light.

Jesus, I'm so glad you came, and I'm so glad you left your Spirit. Moments like these wouldn't be half so nice if I didn't have You to share them with.

No one but You knows the thoughts that go through my mind.
I stand in the cold, and You clear my head.
Thank You for the air that brings sense and order to overcrowded space; I didn't even realize how distracted I was.

My home feels different as I go back into the warm. Nothing has changed except my awareness of Your presence.

You are here. Christmas lights, music, family... all nice, but You add the wonder and the peace.

Seeking Christmas

Christmas (Christ's Mass ... an assembly, a celebration of Christ)
I can be objective and historical about the holiday until Advent begins.

Advent - "coming"

Four Sundays before the marked day of celebration of His first coming, we begin to slow down, quiet our hearts, as we end each day remembering what it was like to walk in darkness before the Light of the world came into the world bringing hope.

We have all known darkness, and now we know hope.

Like Israel, and all those since the fall in the garden, we are filled with anticipation of the fulfillment of a promise.

"O Come Thou Day Spring
Come and cheer our spirits by Thine Advent here..."

Cheer our spirits by Thy coming.

How my heart quiets once the first candle is lit...

(the Light of the Hope of the Prophets)

and the words of Isaiah are read...

"on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned... For unto us a child is born... Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace... The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this..."

"O Come O Come Emmanuel"
Come, 'God With Us'!

Come be with us.

My eldest knew to sing this song at two, and a decade later we still sing.

I sit back and listen to the informal catechism between my husband and my children, the same questions I was asked as a child by my father.
"Why do we light the first candle?"
"We light this candle as a symbol of expectation... of hope."


We seek Him. And, in Him, we find HOPE.