Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A little leavening....

leaveneth the whole lump.

I'm becoming a bit obsessed with bread making. Not the bread machine kind, though there's nothing wrong with that. No, I mean the kind of bread that you mix and knead and shape by hand. It's not necessarily perfectly shaped, it might have inconsistencies and irregularities, but that is part of it's beauty. It's therapeutic for me, breadmaking.

I am amazed that you can mix together a few simple ingredients, wait a while, bash it around on the counter a bit and end up with something delicious and fragrant and life-sustaining.

Lately, I've been trying to perfect a type of country french bread-- Pain au levain--that begins as a little cast-off piece of dough from the last batch...the cast-off is fed and grown until it becomes a chef, or a starter, of wild yeast wonderfulness.

Once you get it started, it lasts indefinitely as long as you feed it. Essentially, every loaf you make is a descendant of the first batch--that first little cast off piece of bread dough--and it has in it the necessary leavening to cause new loaves to rise. I know, it doesn't take a lot to amaze and amuse me, but this is a miracle in a crock, people!

So today, I'm kneading and thinking and chatting with my children, two of whom are kneading alongside me, and I realize that bread and kids are not that different.

You feed them, love them, help shape them and then you wait and see what happens. I know I don't want bread machine kids. I don't care for them to be perfectly sized, shaped, and predictable. I don't desire that they fit the mold ---mine or anyone elses, but God's. I am looking forward to seeing the finished product, though these days that seems to be approaching far too quickly. I am embracing their uniqueness, their sense of humor and their originality. I am thankful for the authentic people that I'm beginning to see take shape.

Most of all, I'm humbled. Humbled that God would see fit to take a little cast of dough and allow it to bring forth four amazing children. If I am careful, I'll be baking bread with this starter for years to come. If I am purposed, I can say the same of the generations to come in my family. I want to be the kind of leavening in my home that grows my family into the fullness of their potential. My prayer is that their lives will be a beautiful reflection of the Bread of Life.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Out of Balance

I just walked in to panic in the living offspring were fairly certain that a helicopter crashed in the backyard or we were under alien attack and were close to foaming at the mouth. The sounds emanating from the mudroom were loud enough to make one think that might be the case, but it was merely my washing machine. Turns out that someone loaded all of the towels from the pool into one very large load that had gotten out of balance and the machine was protesting, loudly. Not only did it sound out of control, the machine walked halfway across the mudroom floor like some crazed movie where machines come to life.

I redistributed the towels, moved the washer back into place and life went on.

I've been reading Romans this week and the passage on liberty in chapter 14 makes me realize that as believers we get out of balance, too. Our dogma, criticism and self-righteous assertion that our way is the right way must sound like so much noise in God's ears. Our fussing and bickering over things that are non-essential makes us wobble right out of the position we're meant to be, strains our connection to the source of our power.

I love how Paul says it and Eugene Peterson phrases it in verse 6-10 of the chapter and following:

What's important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God's sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you're a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters> It's God we are anwerable to-- all the way from life to death and everthing in between--not each other. That's why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that He could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.

I don't know about you, but I really don't want my legacy to be that of a petty tyrant. I don't want to condescend or be treated makes me a little crazy. I want to live a balanced life that is optimally functional, humming along as it should be, plugged in firmly to the source of my strength and Power, living and eating and breathing and drinking and working and singing and dancing and cleaning and laughing and writing and loving and raising children to the glory of God!

And if that isn't encouraging or exciting enough for you, Paul ( again through the Message) leaves us with a reprimand that steps on my toes and makes me belly-laugh at the same time....he sounds just like my grandma....and she was usually right on it.

Romans 14:12 So tend to your own knitting. You've got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God.

Isn't that the best? I'm pretty sure if I'm gonna stay balanced in the life I have to lead, tending my own knitting is the only way to roll.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Our Town

Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping....into the future....

I've been working on producing Thornton Wilder's Our Town for our homeschool co-op next spring. The last time I read this play I was sixteen, just like Emily, and I truly didn't get it. Yeah, I analyzed it for honors English, I wrote about the underlying themes and I contributed meaningfully to the discussion in Mrs. Mabe's hot, modular classroom. I got an A in the class and kind remarks on how insightful all of my written responses were. But I definitely didn't get it.

Fast forward a lifetime of days and I'm beginning to understand what Wilder wanted to communicate in a whole new way.

Every single day matters. Every non-event is real life, happening all around me and never slowing down....triplet babies grow into twelve year olds with crazy senses of humor and their own ideas......first born sons get driver's teenagers turn into 40 year old women.....the guy you married for his blue eyes, biceps and sense of humor has become the one person on the planet who knows everything about you and loves you happens.

We found out today that a friend's wife's breast cancer has metastasized to her brain and bones. Yesterday her kids were headed back to college, today they're afraid to walk out the front door without her.

Wilder says " a lot can happen in a thousand days".....the truth is, a lot has happened in 12,000 days or so that I haven't witnessed. I've been present for it, because it's my life, I just haven't noticed it....experienced it....appreciated it.

When Emily goes back to Grover's Corner for her twelfth birthday, she understands something that I want to get a firm grasp on one more sunrise.

She says, near the end of act three " I can't. I can't go on. It goes so fast. We don't have time to look at one another. I didn't realize. So all of that was going on and we never noticed. But first, Wait!! One more look. Good-bye, good-bye world. Goodbye Grover's Corners, Mama and Papa. Goodbye clocks ticking and Mama's sunflowers...and food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth you are too wonderful for anyone to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?

I'm thankful that the real life is eternal...that there is a forever with Christ after this dress rehearsal....but I don't ever want to miss out on how great the dress rehearsal is. If God created this life as a taste of things to come, we've got no idea what we're in for....I want to realize how wonderful earth is this side of heaven; I WANT TO REALIZE LIFE WHILE I LIVE IT!!!!

Psalm 39 is a pretty good reminder. It's more eloquent in the NIV, but the Message version really hits me where I am. verses 4-13 say it like this
Tell me what's going on, God?
How long do I have to live? Give me the bad news!
You've kept me going on pretty short rations; my life is a string too short to be saved. Oh! We're all puffs of air, Oh! We're all shadows in a campfire. Oh! We're all just spit in the wind. We make our pile, then we leave it.

What am I doing in the meantime, Lord? Hoping! That's what I'm doing. Hoping. You'll save me from a rebel life, save me from the contempt of dunces. I'll say no more. I'll shut my mouth, since you, Lord, are behind all this. But I can't take it much longer. When you put us through the fire to purge us from our sin, our dearest idols go up in smoke. Are we also nothing but smoke?

Ah, god, listen to my prayer, my cry--open your ears. Don't be callous; just look at these tears of mine. I'm a stranger here. I don't know my way-- a migrant like my whole family. Give me a break, cut me some slack before it's too late and I'm out of here!"

Yeah. In the meantime I'm hoping! Even though I'm just a shadow, a stranger, a migrant....spit in a campfire....I want to make it count! I want to realize life while I'm living it.

Let it go,
Let it roll right off your shoulder
Don't you know
The hardest part is over
Let it in,
Let your clarity define you
In the end
We will only just remember how it feels

Our lives are made
In these small hours
These little wonders,
These twists & turns of fate
Time falls away,
But these small hours,
These small hours still remain

Let it slide,
Let your troubles fall behind you
Let it shine
Until you feel it all around you
And i don't mind
If it's me you need to turn to
We'll get by,
It's the heart that really matters in the end

Our lives are made
In these small hours
These little wonders,
These twists & turns of fate
Time falls away,
But these small hours,
These small hours still remain

These Small Hours by Rob Thomas

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Today's Top Ten

For no particular reason and in no particular order, here is a list of ten of my favorite things at this very second.

1. Grace....really, how could we ask for more?

2. Contented children

3. Friends with front porches, a sense of humor and the ability to be real, gotta love that!

4. Turning 40! Don't be afraid!

5. My screaming new laptop ( see # 4, big birthdays have advantages)

6. Blackberries. I just picked some this morning and put them in pancakes. They are perhaps the best part of creation.

7. edamame, soba noodles, tofu and ginger. all together. trust me.

8. bare feet

9. Tomatoes ripening in my garden

10. The public library. I mean really, they let me take all of those books home for free and then next week they let me do it all over again! They must really love me!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Good Earth

We tilled the garden last night.

Funny, how things like gardening show me more about my own heart than prayer and meditation sometimes do.

This particular garden is a dream. It's nothing but rich brown silt, deposited along the Ohio River many moons ago. Over the past two centuries my garden plot, along with thousands of acres surrounding my land, was home to a very productive vineyard. A variety of obscure grapes were grown here by a Danish immigrant and his family --strangers in a strange land, who came to this country and tamed some wild grapes, built a vineyard, established a school and put their lives on the line to free some slaves.

The winery, school and vineyard are long gone and the acreage surrounding us has been subdivided until the original farm is only a memory recorded in an old journal. In spite of the changes that have taken place, though, there are reminders of the original investment in this land. We still have an arbor that is weighed down by centuries old vines, and most of our neighbors have random grape vines in their yards as well. The foundation stones that were once supporting the one room school are evident just up the road, and the winery itself sits in disrepair in my backyard, each huge, hand-hewn stone a monument testifying to the fact that someone has gone before--worked the land, tamed what was wild and made a life and we are not the originals.

The home I lived in prior to this one was brand new. It was the first of several in a brand new subdivision, replete with homeowners' associations, covenants, restrictions and a complete lack of community within the planned community. My garden there was a nightmare. Pure red mud, packed so tightly that I couldn't till the ground on my own, and even after several years of feeding that soil, mulching in compost and humus and lots of sweat equity, I could barely grow an onion. The fruits of my labors in that garden were as withered and tired as my lack of relationships in that uncommunity.

As I was tilling my dream dirt last night, I thought long and hard about my life and the crossroads at which I find myself where true community, worship and fellowship are concerned. I was contemplating the things that God is stirring in my heart and mind, even though they seem to be radical, different, defying the norm that I see all around me. It was as if there was a shadow of what had gone before hidden somewhere in the "new things" that God is doing in my life---a true sense that these ideas are not original. I continued thinking about my own heart as I cut through the soil and removed weeds, loosening ground so that the seeds that I plant can be deeply rooted and well watered. I want the soil of my heart to be like this garden--rich, loose, open to good seed, quick to dislodge weeds, bearing fruit that is pure and sweet and abundant enough to share.

My heart has had seasons where it was more like the red mud garden in the planned community--dry, hard, unyielding, surrounded by "forced community" that was as dry and lifeless as that same mud.

I don't want to go back.

I don't want to forget that there are seeds of the Father hibernating there, shadows of what He hopes for me waiting to grow wild, like those grapes that crop up all around our neighborhood. I want to allow Him to till and weed and tend my heart so that it yields good fruit, even when it feels countercultural. I want to be free of the false restrictions I've allowed to become law to me through religion---like so many subdivision covenants and homeowners' associations--and live in the freedom of grace and truth.

I want to follow the ancient path.

Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it.
Then you will find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16

Sow righteousness, reap love
It's time to till the ready earth, it's time to dig in with God! Hosea 10:13 MSG

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Day in the Life

We decided to take some random pics today.....the neighbors aren't so sure about us.....but a fun day was had by all, so it's all good!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Freedom song

I've been thinking a lot lately about freedom---what it really looks like, how to walk in it, how
much it costs. Freedom is really foreign to me, even though I am blessed to live in the land of the free. I recognize fully the bill of rights, freedom of speech, free enterprise--those concepts and ideas allow me to have a standard of life that most people the world over only dream of. I understand freedom in that sense.

Living in freedom, embracing it, walking in it day in and day out, that's another story. I happen to live in a house that was once a stop on the Underground Railroad.( Well, the house itself burned down twice, so the house I live in looks just like the one that was on the Underground Railroad....but the foundation is the original. ) It's a massive old stone basement made of hand-hewn rock that connects to an equally massive wine cellar by some tunnels that were sealed off sometime in the 70's. We live on the "slave side" of the Ohio river, and back in the day, people who risked their lives to experience a taste of freedom would pass through my basement, slip down the tunnels into the wine cellar and make their way through the river bottom and ferry across to the free side.

It was risky to make the journey. It was brave and dangerous to defy the system of the day and help those who were seeking freedom to find their way out of bondage. The family who owned my house had to really own their beliefs--that freedom was for everyone, and they would risk their own comfort (and safety) in order to help other people find their way. They embodied faith , because they walked it out and in doing so, lives were saved, hope was offered, captives were set free.

I want to live my life like that. I want to own my freedom. When I think about my children--their silliness, their passion, their honesty and frankness--I get a glimpse of what I think freedom must feel like. Thankfully, they're pretty secure in our love for them, so they operate with confidence inside the safe boundaries of their world. They are free to be themselves, free to ask questions, free to learn and experience and make mistakes, and free to push the boundaries and question them if the boundaries seem wrong. They know they are loved innately by their parents and they operate freely in that love. When they're under the care of someone else, they are more reticent....more reserved.....more careful. They're less likely to be open and silly and who they really are.

I'm realizing that, unfortunately, I've been operating like I'm at the cosmic babysitter's house instead of living in the love of my Daddy. I've been cautious, and timid and hesitant to be real, rather than spinning and dancing and experiencing the freedom of being the much loved child of God, himself. It's as if I'm standing on the slave side of the river, looking longingly across the water at the free land but the tunnel has been blocked off. The crazy thing is, there is no cost to me--it's already been paid by Jesus. The tunnel isn't sealed, it's blocked off by my own junk that I just pile in the way---past hurts, church junk, religious checklists, legalism, fear of others---all that stuff has blocked the pathway to freedom that is already at my foundation.....I just have to be willing to let go of it.

I'm ready now, I think, to slip through the tunnel and out through the wine cellar and across the field to the place where freedom waits. I understand that finding freedom will cause me to want to show others the way and that I'll have to be patient with their bondage and their baggage. I'm learning that the paradox of Jesus calls me to have compassion for the captors and the systems that keep people from being free....but for the first time I'm understanding that it isn't my job to try the captors. I'm not called to tear down the systems and adjust the mindsets. That in itself is a massive step toward freedom! Instead of fixing the whole mess, I'm just called to be free, and to lovingly share that freedom with others as best I can. Then there will be a whole chorus of people singing freedom songs from the other side of the river....

Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. I am emphatic about this. The moment any one of you submits to circumcision or any other rule-keeping system, at the same moment Christ's hard-won gift of freedom is squandered. I repeat my warning: The person who accepts the ways of circumcision trades all the advantages of the free life in Christ for the obligations of the slave life of the law.

I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile, we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love. Galatians 5:1-6 MSG

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Scrambled or poached?

I was delightfully surprised this week by a long-time mentor. Things have been transitional around here for a while now......I guess that's an obvious concept, since change is inevitable, but the family has been on a journey that feels a bit like the old childhood game of blind man's bluff.

At any rate, I'd spent some road time walking and praying this week between bouts of rain, anda couple of the specific things I'd been talking over with God were purpose and direction. Truthfully, I was asking for a bit of a pulse know, one of those prayers where you know God's got it all going on, but you're not quite sure you're tuned to the right frequency? I'd been feeling that I had run into the same dead end several times over and was asking for fresh vision to see my way over or around the hurdle.

Honestly? My spiritual life had reached a point of defiance dressed up to look like caution and careful thinking. Instead of "running the race that was set before me", I was operating much like I do when I try to humor one of my sons by playing Viva Pinata......spinning in circles, headed in the wrong direction, madly mashing buttons on the video controller. In other words, in the game but going nowhere.

So, God, in His crazy way, chose to show up in the form of a phone call with a much respected mentor that I had never met. I was encouraged, challenged and able to process a lot of things during that phone call----enough to fill several blog posts on a variety of subjects that had been rolling around in my mind. Abba surprised me with a conversation that literally walked through the laundry list of some key things I'd been wrestling with. With all respect to my mentor ( and friend!!) I'm not sure he even realizes how much he was used by God yesterday morning.

What, you may be asking yourself, does this have to do with eggs---as implied in the title of this confusing post? Everything, really. My mentor reminded me of a significant thread in the movie Runaway Bride with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. It seems that each of the unfortunate suitors who'd been left at the altar all had one thing in common---they knew that "she was the one" because she liked her eggs the same way they liked theirs. Poached....scrambled.....over all honesty, the girl wasn't lying. I'm sure she did like her eggs the same way they did. The reporter covering the story unlocked the unlikely source of her inability to commit, stating , "The problem is, you don't know how you like your eggs!"

Fast forward to the final scene, where we find our conflicted protagonist surrounded by plate after plate of eggs, prepared every way imaginable. We hear her make her proposal to the reporter who solved the problem---because she took the time to find out who she was---to discover exactly how she liked her eggs ( benedict, I believe).

That said to say this---I need to find out how I like my eggs, and so do you!! As the bride of Christ, I don't want to run away from the altar anymore. I want to run, but in the right direction because I understand the way I'm made well enough to run with purpose. I want to run, with abandon, on the course that's marked out for me, instead of in blindfolded circles because I'm too afraid and cautious to crack a few eggs in order to find out who I'm meant to be.

Do you see what this means---all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running--- and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished the race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed--that exhilarating finish in and with God--he could put up with anything along the way; cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faity, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

Hebrews 12:1-3

Friday, February 29, 2008

Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.
--William Butler Yeats

Over the past decade of homeschooling my tribe, this Yeats quote has become a source of comfort and inspiration for me when the going gets tough. If you’re like me, you have more than enough buckets to fill! Buckets come in all manner of shapes, sizes and disguises—menu planning and grocery shopping, vacuuming the carpet…again, walking the dog, weeding the garden, scrubbing the bathroom—you get the idea. Any number of things that need done on a regular basis in order for life to run more smoothly is like filling a bucket.

The problem comes in when I view my homeschool as just another bucket needing filled. There have been dry seasons when I have looked at my children ( and my husband) as buckets—diligently doing my best to fill each one with good things—biblical truth, knowledge, healthy food, whatever their particular love language might happen to be. Honestly? It’s an uninspiring and exhausting effort. Human buckets are filled with holes and it seems that no matter how effectively I try to keep them filled, everything just leaks back out again.

When I look back at these frustrating seasons, I can see a pattern that unfailingly repeats itself. It is the pattern of focusing on accomplishment and checking things off of my list. Math facts, book reports, measurable progress, tangible goals, portfolio fodder and standardized test scores are all drops of water aimed for my half-full bucket. It is during these times, when I’m trying to replicate public school in my dining room instead of resting in the knowledge that homeschool doesn’t have to look like school at home, that I question my reasons and effectiveness as a parent and a teacher.

That is when God graciously reminds me that He is not in the bucket-filling business and being a full bucket is not what I am created for or who I am called to be. Filling buckets quenches fire, it’s frustrating, tedious work that generally leaves us feeling tired and frustrated. The alternative to filling buckets looks a little different. It’s messy, sometimes even chaotic. It involves inspiring my kids to want to learn for themselves and creating an environment in my home that prioritizes people and relationships over things….even clean laundry sometimes. It involves creating a hunger in my children for understanding God, the world He created, and the purpose He has for them. It means teaching them to ask all kinds of questions, even difficult ones, and then helping them find the answers—persisting until they do ,even when the answers aren’t neat, tidy or in the back of the book. It involves teaching them to ask “Why?” and being willing to say “Why not?”. It creates messes, but it also lays the foundation for memories and relationships.
As a homeschool mom, I believe I’m called to be a fire-starter instead of a bucket-filler. It’s my God-given role to facilitate something in each one of my children’s lives that isn’t meant to be held in a bucket ( or hidden under a bushel). It’s my role to encourage, support and inspire them to step into the roles that God created for them. They were designed to have lives that impact the Kingdom, lives that spread truth, passion, mercy and the love of Jesus like wildfire—lives that aren’t complete just because the bucket is full.

Don’t get me wrong. Math facts and spelling rules are necessary, just like table manners and tying your shoes and two years of a foreign language if you want to get into most colleges. I am pro-academic excellence and higher education and mastering skill sets in all required subjects. I’m just saying that if I spend my life ladeling facts and information into my kids’ heads like an old-fashioned bucket brigade, then I’m missing the point.
A bucket can be filled…and sit…full… until it stagnates. A fire starts with a tiny spark and then grows until it is a force to be reckoned with. Yes, it has the potential to be dangerous and destructive if it isn’t controlled, just like our sweet children. But fire, when it is well tended, has the capacity to bring energy, heat and light into a dying, cold, dark world.

I don’t know about you, but in my homeschool I am ready to strike the match.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

It's a blog ,eat ,blog world....

January. For a month that heralds new beginnings, it's my least favorite. There are so many exciting things that need attention, so many opportunities, but I feel like I'm stuck in my cave waiting for the spring thaw. Left to myself I would a bunch of more ( chocolate)....have a cup of coffee to switch things up a bit......and read some more.

This year is my fortieth. Not that this is incredibly significant to me, other than the fact that I think I should have made peace with myself by now and have some idea of how to settle in to life authentically. Honestly living. Engaging the culture I live in the way I am designed to do---with compassion, courtesy and grace, but without apology at the same time.

It's been an interesting week full of paradoxes---worship and doubt, excitement and hesitation, confidence and uncertainty. As I am sorting through teenagers applying for early entry to college classes, finding community in my community, figuring out how to portfolio for the first time in our homeschool journey.....I'm feeling a bit like the new girl in class---wondering if I've got something stuck in my braces and if anyone is gonna ask me to sit at their lunch table.

If I'm honest with myself I'll recognize that I've already been issued the invitation of a lifetime.

The people I love, I call to account---prod and correct and guide so that they'll live at their best. Up on your feet, then. About face! Run after God!'
Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I'll come right in and sit down to supper with you. Conquerors will sit alongside me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, took the place of honor at the side of my Father. That's my gift to the conquerors! Are your ears awake? Listen, listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches.

Way back in the day from high school latin class, I remember that Janus was the Roman god with two faces who stood in the door, looking ahead and looking behind. January fits that bill pretty well---I tend to look back on the things that have happened, that should have happened and wonder what's next. At this moment, I'm feeling that time is too precious to squander in my January funk.....I want to live a life of substance right now---not a life of glory, but a glorious life. One that resonates with truth, honesty, laughter, mistakes that have been learned from, compassion freely given---a life that is listening to the Wind Words....excuse me, there's Someone at the door. I'm pretty sure He's inviting me to sit at His lunch isn't with the popular crowd, but that makes it all the more significant....

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Singing in the rain
Jake saves the day
Outer Banks
Audubon Swamp

Thanks for the memories, 2007!

Making noodles with dad for Thanksgiving
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Christmas in NYC
Times Square
Ice skating at Bryant Park

Hello 2008!

As excited as I am by the feeling of a fresh new start every January, you'd think that I would remember I get one every day.....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!" Lamentations 3:22-23 exclamation point, mine.

Some ladies I enjoy on a homeschool message board that I frequent way too often inspired me to choose a word to focus on for this upcoming year. I chose grace.
Grace is usually defined as "unmerited favor". I am not the queen of dispensing unmerited favor....I tend to give love in return, to offer praise for a job well done, to respond in kind. This year I want to freely give, to be the person who loves in spite of circumstances, hurtful words or bad attitudes. I want to be an example to my children of how to love my husband, them, my parents and my neighbors without a motive or agenda. My desire is that I'd be more giving to those I live with and love the most than I am to short, I really want to put my best face forward where it really counts---in the trenches where I tend to be most lax about what people think.
I want to be a reflection of the lavish grace that has been poured out on my life by a beautiful Saviour who knows no heart is to have that same grace for others this year--in my words, my actions, my responses and my offerings.

2007 was a full year, full of joy and hope and a few disappointments and losses. I am determined to focus on those things that are beautiful, worthy of praise and of good report...while honoring the sad things without being consumed by them. With that in mind, I'm looking back at the past year with thanks and looking forward to all that God has in store on the threshold of this new year.