In due season

15 07 2012

Wishing you a beautiful Sunday.
May you rejoice in so very many simple gifts.

* * *

{An image and a verse
shared with Deidra and friends.}

A Community of Thanks

25 11 2011

Before it’s over, they feed
almost a thousand hungry souls,
this army of volunteers.

Christians from different walks of life,
different political opinions,
and different denominations,
setting aside their differences
and serving in community.

Serving with gladness.
Serving with joy.
Serving side by side
as one.

* * *

What a remarkable privilege to witness and participate in this joyful celebration of grace, generosity, and unity. Please join me today at All the Church Ladies for a photojournalist’s view of a the body of Christ in action. I hope you’ll be as inspired as I was.


22 08 2011

Fresh herbs are a miracle. The way the flavor pops — unmistakable yet blending to perfection, the life of the party while gently promoting and enhancing the timid.

“You are the salt of the earth . . .”

They reach roots deep into rich soil, drinking rain and basking in sunlight. Through no effort of their own, they spring up, a riot of color and texture, flourishing to bring joy and benefit to many.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”

Oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, waving banners of fragrant green, offering their gifts freely, happily, their scent permeating, rubbing off on the fingers, lingering in the nostrils.

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.

My friend, do you think you have no influence in this world? Do you look around at the accomplishments of others and feel insignificant? If you are in Christ, you are a miracle. A new creature in Him. And as your roots go deep in His Word, His life in you springs up through no effort of your own. As you turn your face toward Him and offer yourself freely, happily, His light shines through you, and His fragrance spreads and lingers.

We aren’t meant to compare ourselves to others any more than oregano should compare itself to thyme. God chooses and uses us where and when He will, and He always chooses well, blending our gifts with those of others for maximum benefit to all.

There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.

You have much more influence than you could ever imagine. Bask in His light, flourish in Him, and bring joy to many.

Giving thanks in community for:

#206 fresh oregano that is still surviving the drought
#207 Seattle tomorrow!
#208 two weeks with the Sparrow and her parents
#209 highs in the 70s
#210 parables everywhere and the edges of His ways
#211 beautiful shining saints
#212 happy secrets
#213 conviction of sin and repentance
#214 forgiveness (this comes up on my list a lot, and mostly because I need it!)

To read more gratitude lists or share your own, click the graphic below.

Giving thanks for . . .

18 07 2011

#174 Wildflowers in a jar

#175 Baklava

#176 Bubbles

#177 Homegrown tomatoes and basil with fresh mozzarella cheese

#178 Swings

#179 Burgers on the grill

#180 Whimsical place markers

#181 Happy mingling of generations

#182 A timeline reaching back to the 1800s in Macedonia

#183 Four generations of Damoffs and their families

Almost a century ago, a young Macedonian couple traveled across the Atlantic to a land of hope and opportunity. They stood in a line on Ellis Island and gave their names as best they could — “Son of Dame” the husband said in his native tongue — and the clerk wrote “Damoff.” They settled in Mansfield, Ohio, where they made a home and raised a family. The mother was illiterate, the father worked a factory job, and neither parent spoke English, but they got what they came for. The children grew up American. Seven of ten survived to adulthood to raise their own families, marrying and giving in marriage. They were fruitful and multiplied and the branches spread across the land.

This past weekend we returned to the roots. From California, Maryland, Texas, Washington, Indiana, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama, we gathered again in Mansfield, including three of the five surviving siblings from that first generation. We ate good food, told stories, laughed, played, and ate some more. But more than anything we simply belonged. To a history. To each other.

I married into this family, was grafted into the tree. But my name is on that timeline, and my children’s names, and grand-children’s names. I think of that young immigrant couple and wonder how they imagined their descendents’ future. Would they have chosen me for their grandson?

Then I remember another tree and another grafting. Another family and another Name. The blood that doesn’t flow through my veins, but makes me His daughter. My name was written in His book before the foundation of the world. He always knew I would be His.

We who bear His Name are family. We belong to His story. We belong to each other. And some day we’ll gather for reunion, from every tribe, nation, and tongue.

The timeline will finally reach its end. And our Father, He will welcome us Home.


Nine Squared

4 07 2011

We managed to stay away for eight days. But, I mean, look at that face?

So we’re back . . .

to soak up the sweetness

and to marvel over changes in only one week.

We’re here to celebrate her in all her tiny, wonderful newness.

And we’re here to celebrate another’s birth.
With good food and fine wine.

With spoken words of affirmation and appreciation.
And with cake!

Nine squared.
Eighty-one years.
And the more we tried to make it about him,
the more he expressed his gratitude for us.
A life lived loving,

A life lived grateful,
setting an example for all of us
to go forth and do likewise.

And the gift goes on.

* * *

Giving thanks in community for:

#156 Soft baby coos
#157 Tiny feet kicking to a Daddy’s love song
#158 A father’s example of gentleness passed down to generations
#159 Beautiful food savored slowly
#160 Intentional time around the table
#161 Unexpected tears in prayer
#162 The blending of familiar voices in song
#162 Dad expressing gratitude even for these difficult, tender, final things
#163 The power of words, spoken, written, believed
#164 Freedom, God given, government endorsed (Happy Birthday, America.)

Let it Simmer

23 06 2011

You can’t rush a good sauce.
So you let it sit
and simmer.

You cover it and walk away,
But the aroma,
it follows you,
haunts you,
whispering promises.
And you listen.

* * *

Today I posted some thoughts about sauce and life and art at The Master’s Artist. You’re invited to pull up a chair and join the conversation. Hope to see you there.

Having an open door

30 05 2011

“I just invited Tom* to dinner,” my husband said, coming through the back door into the kitchen.

I stared at him in disbelief for a millisecond, but I knew he wasn’t joking. He would invite a neighbor to dinner at the last minute. The dining room table was already set, the food served, and we were about to sit down. Or, I should say, half of the table was set. The other half — the part we didn’t need for only the three of us — was cluttered with books, magazines, bits of mail, and assorted junk.

“Nice timing,” I said, beginning to stack the mess in an unbalanced pile.

“I just ran into him outside,” he explained, his eyes apologetic as he helped clear the space. “He’s really excited about coming. And I’ve been wanting to have him over.”

“I’m all for having him over,” I snapped. “It’s the timing I’m not so happy about.”

I stashed the precarious pile on the piano bench and assessed our simple supper: three ears of rapidly cooling corn-on-the-cob and ingredients to make “BLOATS” (bacon, lettuce, onion, avocado, and tomato sandwiches). Despite the ample-sounding acronym, it was slim pickings. Then I assessed my appearance, and the meal looked impressive in comparison. No make up, long tie-dyed jersey skirt, white t-shirt, and flip flops. Topped off with a vintage floral apron, the look suggested June Cleaver in her fifties after she ditched the pearls and pumps and moved to a hippie commune.

Oh, well. Tom would be here any second. There was nothing I could do to improve any of it. I headed into the kitchen to toast more bread.

When I returned George had broken the corn ears in half and was shifting the table runner from the center to the now empty end of the table. I huffed my disapproval, snatched a few stray pencils off the runner, and slid it back to center where everyone knows a runner belongs. I was setting a fourth place when George scooted out to answer Tom’s heavy knock on the door — hurrying no doubt to get to Tom and not away from me.

I promise I’m really not an ogre (except occasionally to the people I trust to love me no matter what, and no, I don’t want to stop and think about the implications of that statement right now), and I was already feeling prickles of conviction regarding my focus on appearances and lack of hospitality. Besides, it’s impossible not to like Tom. He’s soft spoken, friendly, and courteous. He’s also single and lives alone. The least I could do is allow him a little break from his domestic solitude. When he walked in I managed a sincere smile and greeted him warmly.

“Thanks so much for having me. I really appreciate it,” he said. Then, looking around, he added, “I don’t think I’ve ever been in this house. It’s very nice!”

Prickles became stabs. How lazy of a neighbor am I? Sure, Tom’s parents own the house he lives in, and he’s only been occupying it for a few months. But still. By this point God had my full attention. As we took our seats I breathed a silent prayer for eyes to see and ears to hear.

George gave thanks for the food, then fell into easy conversation with Tom, touching on topics I’d only vaguely been aware of or didn’t know anything about at all. Obviously these men had been getting to know each other in snatches, and George had been observant.

Almost immediately their talk turned to things of God, and I watched Tom’s soul open like a thirsty bud placed in fresh water. More than once he said, “I’ve been thinking about something and want to know what you think.” And these weren’t mundane matters, like where he should go to get a good deal on tires or how George handles fire ants. These were digging-into-the-Word-and-wanting-to-honor-God-with-my-choices matters.

I knew Tom was a believer, but I didn’t know much else — didn’t know he would sacrifice his own heart’s desires or comforts to please God. Didn’t know he held scripture in every bit as high a regard as George and I do. Didn’t know, because I never bothered to find out.

Tom has a seminary degree. He knows a lot, but he’s not haughty, and the more I listened, the more I heard a heart beating hard after God, humble, teachable, steadfast. He’s going through a tough season right now, casting himself on the Lord for wisdom and direction, and he needed an opportunity to talk to a brother and sister — to lay some thoughts out there and examine them in community.

We lingered long, and the God of mercy stooped low. He opened my eyes and ears, and I realized our dining room had become a holy place and our table an altar. We’d gathered around a simple supper of sandwiches and half ears of corn, but we’d dined on spiritual meat, and our souls were satisfied. God had prepared a feast we would have missed if George hadn’t opened our door.

My husband. He would invite a neighbor to dinner at the last minute.

When I grow up, I hope I’m just like him.

Giving thanks in community for:

#109 a husband who teaches me hospitality
#110 a neighbor who mentors me in loving Jesus better
#111 a simple supper turned into a feast
#112 forgiveness 70 times 7
#113 juicy red sweetness of garden tomatoes
#114 Jacob’s eyes alight with laughter, slurping a strawberry smoothie through a straw
#115 a kitchen, a table, an open door
#116 a Sunday sermon about rest and the quiet whisper to “Come.”

and especially today:
#117 the flag on our front gable and
#118 those who laid down their lives to preserve all it represents. Greater love has no one than this.

To those whose loved ones died defending our freedom, a humble thank you. Grace and peace and much love to you.

*Tom is not his real name. I changed it because I didn’t ask permission to share this story and want to respect his privacy.

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