In Winter

keep walking in winter

though the cold makes you shiver 

there’s growth to be found 

Buried deep in the ground 

In winter 

Keep walking in winter 

Though the frost may be bitter 

Barren fields lie in wait 

For the sunlight to breakthrough

In winter 

Season come 

And seasons go 

Every moment

leads to growth 

Like seeds our change 

Is happening 

In places unseen 

Seasons come and seasons go 

In every one of them

I know that

You’re working 

Deep below In winter 

Keep walking in winter 

Don’t be a quitter 

Keep your eyes on the prize 

therein our joy lies

In winter 

My snow buddies- the real reason I go walking in winter 🙂
a frosty delight 🙂
Even trees need to “lean in” to the Son.
Is that popcorn on my branches?!

I am a “morning” person by nature, but ever since the time change this past November, my dogs have wanted to get up before the crack of dawn. Literally. I mean like 5am sometimes. I have always been a light sleeper- and I can hear their faint high pitch whimper… which slowly turns into a deep, guttural “ARF”! The “boys” are getting older, and when they’ve gotta go, well- they’ve gotta go!

So I am usually out walking with them sometimes as early as 6am. I have learned the hard way that it is much more enjoyable when I take the time to actually prepare for this walk ahead of time. If you know me- the less I have to bring with me the better! But these chilly mornings beg for socks, snow boots, a hat, scarf, gloves, and a winter coat.

I hate wearing all that stuff, because I feel like I am weighed down. But deep down I know that preparation is everything. Just like I prepare myself to brace the cold, I have to also prepare my heart and mind each day for the spiritual walk…
so that I can be prepared to weather whatever storm comes my way 🙂

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.- 1 Peter 1:13

when the building gets in the way

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There once was a place where we’d go 

to take in a heavenly show 

but that marvelous sight 

has been blocked by the height 

of a building- causing me so much woe ;( 

For the last (almost) 16 years, my husband and I would drive into Charlottesville and park in a special spot to watch the sunset- A busy parking lot with a million dollar view. There are two park benches that overlook the city with a perfect view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  This has been our “spot” for years, and I have lost count of how many times we have gone there together to worship God’s creation.

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In this spot, we have bonded over talks about our kids, reminisced about our past, dreamed about our future… and we have praised God for His many blessings. In this spot, we have gone over all the crazy “God” things that happened to cause us to move to Charlottesville all those years ago.  I remember the first time I drove down route 250 heading into Charlottesville- it was as if God told me I was home.

And now a rather large church building has changed the skyline where we used to sit to watch the sunset.  Kind of ironic that a building for people to worship God has physically gotten in the way of the view of what makes this city so beautiful.

But that has got me to thinking…

Has a building gotten in your way? 

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Now that the church building is closed due to the pandemic, I see how a building has gotten in the way of being the “church”.

So much of the church has been focused one one goal-  Sunday mornings!

But now that we are unable to use the building to gather, I see how narrow minded my view of  “church” at times had become.

Over these last 6 weeks, our world has drastically changed- but I can see how resilient the church has become- and it’s inspiring!

-I see pastors of all denominations and all ages putting themselves out there on social media- making videos, sharing devotionals, encouraging people, actually BEING the church- and reaching far more people!

-I see people donating food to food banks, making face masks for healthcare workers, delivering groceries, generously supporting small businesses and helping one another.

-I see people being more intentional in their relationships- writing and mailing cards, actually having phone conversations, texting, FaceTiming, and even Zoom-ing.

-I see countless churches offering online worship services- making worship accessible to everyone at anytime!

-I see people not waiting until Sunday morning to “have” church, but people BEING the church every day!

And I have hope.

Maybe this is what Church was supposed to look like all along.

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?

1 Corinthians 3:16

the missed list

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I miss seeing the random smiles 

of strangers 

striking up conversations of 

commonalities and enjoying a 

moment of connection 

I miss the warm embrace of 

a friendly hug- the one that makes me 

instantly feel like you’re a part of

my  family 

I miss the naiveté of going about 

our daily lives without

thinking that we may infect someone 

by simply breathing 

I miss coffee shops

thrift stores

restaurants

lunch dates with friends 

having the house to myself 

but most of all- 

I miss worshipping together on Sundays

and being with my church family-

the fellowship, greeting one another, 

the buzz of joyful energy and

conversations in the cafe

singing, praying, 

and praising the Lord 

in one accord 

…but JOY comes in the morning- Psalm 30:5 

leaning

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we’re in a time 

of “leaning”- 

all our excess 

stripped away 

we’re in a time 

of leaning 

on our Savior 

 day by day

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This is a strange season we are in.

Just a few short weeks ago I was excitedly planning Easter festivities at church, my girls were anticipating their spring concerts and trips with band, and my hubby was gearing up for another busy tax season.

And then came Corona… 

It seems like life as we know it has come to a screeching halt.

Alone with my thoughts, I have come to realize how many things I have taken for granted.

Like my trips to Starbucks for egg bites and flat whites…those weekly galavants to the thrift store to socialize with strangers and to get lost in my thoughts sifting through junk…meeting friends for lunch and coffee…having the house to myself throughout the week to clean and organize…. but of everything, having “church”- this is the biggest for me.  I miss being able to hug my church family every week.  I miss seeing all the smiling faces and being together in person to praise the Lord on Sundays.

And yet here we are- all going through this strange season together.

We’ve been stripped of everything that isn’t necessary for our survival.

And yet, even in the midst of uncertainty, I have peace.

In these “lean” times- may we lean into Him! 

“Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
leaning on the everlasting arms;
what a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning,
safe and secure from all alarms;
leaning, leaning,
leaning on the everlasting arms.

O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day,
leaning on the everlasting arms.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
leaning on the everlasting arms. 

-E.A. Hoffman (1894)

more than a feeling

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focusing on feelings 

leaves my heart reeling 

and my goal becomes 

a far distant dream 

but when I instead

plan each step ahead  

the destination’s 

not as far 

as it seems 

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I had an “aha” moment this morning.  Yeah, that happens occasionally- but not as often as I’d like 🙂

I really wanted to start working out again- for no other reason than it’s good for your body to move.  I needed to do something that was easy and didn’t require a lot of thought, so I decided to download one of those “couch to 5k” apps.  I love those because it takes the guesswork out of your workouts.  3 days a week, all I have to do is start the app and get on the treadmill and it tells me when to run and when to walk.  Easy enough!

Until this past week.

I have been doing this for 4 weeks now, and instead of getting easier- it is definitely getting more challenging.  I haven’t missed a single workout, and I have run/walked every minute the app has told me to.

But this morning I got up and dreaded it.  I knew I’d be running for even longer bursts today… and I was already tired before I even got out of bed! But I had already laid out what I needed to “get my workout on” the night before

“Stop thinking about how you feel, ” I kept saying to myself over and over.  “Just do it!” 

I pulled my hair back into a ponytail, and slipped on the headband.  I went through all the steps… and then my oldest daughter saw me in the kitchen.

“What in the world are you doing?” she asked me when she saw my crazy head gear and my outfit.

“I’m trying to get in the mood to do the treadmill this morning.”

And as I had this conversation with her this morning, I was struck with the idea that my girls are always watching me.  Not just what I say to them- but what I do.

I want to be a person of my word- someone who follows through. Someone who sets goals and accomplishes them.  I always talk to the girls about how important it is to not to be led by their “feelings”… and here I was, ready to take the morning off from working out- simply because I didn’t “feel” like doing it.

But the simple action of doing what I had planned on doing the night before kept me on track.

My shoes were by my bed when I woke up.  Headband was put on my night stand.  And I slept in my workout clothes (yes- they were clean!)

So I went downstairs and as soon as I took the first step on the treadmill, it was like He was carrying me.  He gave me every ounce of energy I needed to complete my goal.

I finished, and came upstairs to both girls sitting on the couch.

They asked how my run was.

It was hard, but good.  It wasn’t easy- but nothing worth doing ever is!

And the best part?

My daughter said she’s going to get on the treadmill when she gets home today, too.

“Failing to plan… is planning to fail.” 

Set your mind on things above- Colossians 3:2 

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made new

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making old things

new 

let the vintage

shine through 

cleaned up to

perfection 

for the 

clarity of my 

reflection 

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This past week, my hubby went with me to pick up a few of my granny’s things- a couple of dressers and her china set.  It’s hard to believe my granny passed away over three years ago… so many memories- especially Christmas and Thanksgiving gatherings- revolve around her home.

My granny and pawpaw bought these dressers new and used them for many years.  By the time I remembered seeing them, they were used in the guest room- where my sister and I would stay overnight when we were young.  I remember thinking they were so beautiful and fancy.  I have always loved old things- especially things that remind me of joyful times- like staying at granny’s house.

I remember always wanting to look inside the dressers to see what was in there.  I didn’t ever snoop- but when I was little, I imagined these dressers held fancy dresses and all sorts of treasures!  More than likely- it was extra blankets and boring things like that, lol… but it was fun as a kid to imagine and pretend 🙂

After my husband and I got the dressers safely home, I searched the internet and found a vintage ad for the exact same bedroom set!  It was in a Life magazine in 1959…

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How cool is that?! I remember sleeping in the same bed, but they must have gotten rid of it at some point.  Amazingly, the dressers are in excellent shape for being 60 years old! All I need is to find a couple of new drawer pulls for the tall dresser.

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The china was a perfect fit in my china cabinet.  I am looking forward to using it and making NEW memories around our own dining room table.

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Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
 They are NEW every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”- Lamentations 3:22-24

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Right Here Waiting For Food

My husband and I were inspired to write a song parody about our dogs and their love affair for food.  From the moment I wake up they are following me around, waiting for their next meal.  I think if you have a fur baby, you can relate 😉 Hope you enjoy!

“Right Here Waiting For Food”

Doorways apart night after night
And I slowly starve to death
You open the door and let me in
I greet you with my morning breath

If you don’t feed me Mama
There will be lots of drama

Wherever you go
Whatever you do
I will be right here waiting for food
Whatever you eat
What falls at your feet
I will be right here waiting for food

I took for granted all the times
That my bowl was filled to the brim
But now it’s empty and I know
That I’ll never eat again

Oh can’t you see my hunger
I’m not getting any younger

Wherever you go
Whatever you do
I will be right here waiting for food
Whatever you eat
What falls at your feet
I will be right here waiting for food

I don’t know how I can survive
This ordeal
But I’m gonna bark at you ’till I
get my next meal

Wherever you go
Whatever you do
I will be right here waiting for food
Whatever you eat
What falls at your feet
I will be right here waiting for food

*and my apologies to Richard Marx for ruining his song, because I’ll never ever hear it the same way again, lol!!

 

expectations

in my head 

I plan ahead 

and hope that 

all works out 

until the dread 

when those best laid

plans just don’t

 pan out 

It’s no secret that I get excited easily- and it doesn’t take much!   But I am finding that being excited takes a great deal of energy.  And if whatever I’m excited about falls through, or doesn’t happen the way I expect- it is a huge emotional drain for me.

But I’m learning how to better manage this.

Because my expectations are actually limitations… because maybe the thing I was expecting is not what God is directing to happen! 

Like Thanksgiving…

I think holidays can be a huge let-down. We have this expectation of how we are supposed to celebrate- all our extended family gathered around a table.  Singing carols, sharing stories.  Happy and full of joy.  It doesn’t help that we have all of our acquaintances and friends on social media posting all of their camera worthy moments (me included!)- which just puts even more pressure on everyone to have the perfect day!

But my hubby woke up under the weather on Thanksgiving. We were supposed to travel to see both of our families, but he called his family and made the decision to stay home.  I knew it would be a huge let down for us all to stay home, so I drove with the girls to see his family and then to have dinner with my family.  It’s about a 3 hour drive each way.

After a fabulous dinner at my sister’s house, we started the drive home.  Those 3 hours took forever.

All day I felt like I was missing something, and I couldn’t wait to be home.

As the girls and I pulled into the driveway, I saw the happiest sight.  My hubby’s face was pressed against the window, waiting for us.

I was so happy to be home!  And even better was how happy my hubby was to see all of us!

If he hadn’t stayed home, I wouldn’t have had that sweet homecoming- and I wouldn’t have experienced the feeling of missing my hubby all day.

In the words of an old hair-spray band song by Cinderella-

“You don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone.”

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that is all

Simply trusting every day;
Trusting through a stormy way;
Even when my faith is small,
Trusting Jesus, that is all. 

Trusting as the moments fly,
Trusting as the days go by,
Trusting Him, whate’er befall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Brightly doth His Spirit shine
Into this poor heart of mine;
While He leads I cannot fall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Singing if my way be clear,
Praying if the path be drear;
If in danger, for Him call,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Trusting Him while life shall last,
Trusting Him till earth is past,
Till His gracious advent call,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.  

– Edgar Page Stites (1836- 1921)

I am learning to trust Jesus more every day.  I am learning to trust Him in big things and in the small things too.  And every time I have handed over a worry or a concern to Him- I can look back and see how He has always, ALWAYS worked things out!

Yesterday, as I was preparing to lead worship for the service, I set my binder with the worship order and the chord charts for the music on the piano.  As I began singing, I realized that the folder was NOT the same folder I had used earlier in the week… in fact, by the time I got to the third song, I realized that the song was not in this particular folder.

It was a song that had lots of words to it, and I had even decided at our practice to change the key to another one- one that I had never played or sang the song in before.

I had a very brief moment of panic set in… and then I remembered all the times I had led worship before- and how He had always provided what I needed- ESPECIALLY the times I felt the weakest.

So I began to play and prayed He would give me words…. and the words just flowed right out of my mouth.  It was like my fingers were dancing across the piano keys.  I was so grateful for all the days I have sat at my piano and worshipped just because.  I play and sing every day- not because I’m “practicing”- but because I want to be close to Jesus.

The more I worship, the closer I feel to Him.

The closer I feel to Him- the easier it is for me to hear His gentle whispers, and the more I can trust and obey Him-in ALL things!

“While He leads, I cannot fall; trusting Jesus, that is all.”

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.  Psalm 28:7

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Home

the place where I can wear 

my hair 

up in a messy bun 

the place where doggies blissfully 

 “happy dance” under the sun 

the place where I can look around 

and see love in a frame

family pictures scattered ’round

showing just how far we came 

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I sort of feel like Dorthy in Oz- “there’s no place like home!”   I have a always been a “homebody” and enjoy having the house to myself.  I can play piano, sing at the top of my lungs… snuggle with my dogs (and pet my daughter’s bunny- but don’t tell her!).  But I’ll say this- being a “homemaker” is not something that comes natural to me.  I don’t really have an eye for decorating, I’ve never been fond of cooking (except for baking- I LOVE making desserts!), and anyone who knows me well will tell you my home is “lived in”.

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But today I am finding joy in making my house a “home”.  I am praising the Lord that I have this day to sweep up all the pine needles and the little bits of trash on our hardwood floors, and for a new steam mop that makes those floors shine!  I’m praising the Lord for a brand new dishwasher- one that’s quiet and cleans and dries all my dishes to perfection!

And I’m praising the Lord for my two doggies- who always follow me and lay at my feet- no matter where I am in the house!

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And I’m praising the Lord for my two daughters who will be home soon and will help me put up our Christmas tree today!

“It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.”- Anne of Green Gables 

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As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord-  Joshua 24:15