Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Please Pass the Gourditude

We sat around the table, gabbing rather mindlessly about nothing in particular. There were occasional lapses in etiquette, selfish tendencies cropped up unexpectedly from time to time, and eventually a general spirit of unrest had me squirming with dissatisfaction and frustration.

My kids aren't so little anymore. I used to enjoy the quaint November projects that reminded us to be thankful, projects such as writing notes on colorful sticky notes, rubbing leaf patterns onto cards, or adding verses of gratitude to construction paper artwork.

But they've outgrown the turkey hand-tracing phase. No longer would it be appropriate to invite my teen to stand on a chair and quote, "How Doth the Little Busy Bee." (Although if he did volunteer, it would probably be pretty entertaining. I'll have to keep that one in mind . . . . )

Still, no matter our age, our hearts must practice gratitude in order to grow, in order to truly live. With or without construction paper and marking pens, we must continue to train our hearts to "praise God from whom all blessings flow." (If you have ten minutes, I strongly encourage you to listen to Ann Voskamp's talk on the subject of gratitude.)

Elisabeth Elliot, whose radio program "Gateway to Joy" I've been listening to quite a bit lately, said:

When we learn to give thanks, we are being obedient to God, we are delivered from a mean and complaining spirit, and we maintain unbroken fellowship with the Lord. 

This is what I want for my family: unbroken fellowship with the Lord. So as we sat there around the table, I suddenly grabbed an especially odd-shaped gourd from the centerpiece. I figured it was worth a try. Clearing my throat I sat up straight and announced in sonorous tones, "This is the gourd of gratitude."

Jamie was quick to catch on. "The gourditude."

"Yes, the gourditude. We will now pass the gourditude around the table (you must hold it by the handle, like so) and share something kind about the person on your right."

The giggling and snickering commenced. We passed the gourd (holding the handle like so), and the tension was lifted. Kind words began to come from our lips, words that gave birth to more words of generosity and appreciation.

The passing of "gourditude" continued the next time we gathered, and I silently praised God for such a simple act that spoke to the teen and pre-teen hearts in our home.

This action reminded me once again of how crucial it is to be developing gratitude in my own heart. I'd allowed certain disciplines to slip -- disciplines such as Scripture memory and gratitude journaling -- that were instrumental in keeping my heart and mind focused on that which is "right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy." And my family suffered as a result.

A wise woman in my church once shared a key to motherhood that was both succinct and convicting: "It's my life or theirs." So simple, yet so difficult. My life . . . or my child's life?

Photo by Peter Bartausky

Yet in order to be able to sacrifice, in order to be able to give and give to my family again and again (and with joy, no less!) I must be filled. I cannot fill my life in my own strength, but I can ask the Lord to fill me. And He delights to do so.

The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure 
and sense in which he has attained liberation from self.

And so up went the Scripture passage above the kitchen sink (I'm working on a section of John 15) and out came the gratitude journal. And you know what? A funny thing happened. The atmosphere in our home shifted. My daughter, who has been prompting me on my memory cards, decided to write out some verses that she now wants to memorize. The words in our home are more inclined toward kindness, and a general feeling of peace and calm is not so out of the ordinary.

It's my life or theirs. Jesus was faced with the same decision . . . and He chose us. He chose me, He chose you. Such love prompts my heart to choose Him, to choose my husband, to choose my children . . . above myself.

Christ's love compels us.
(2 Cor. 5:14)

Sometimes it takes a little push to remind us, and sometimes it takes an oddly-shaped gourd. How thankful I am that my Lord has both a generous, patient heart . . . and a great sense of humor. 

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

{Murmur and Glisten}

A little something new . . . . Come for a walk with me?

(With the correct link this time!)

The Suburban Diary of an Autumnal Lady

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Friday, September 4, 2015

{Best I Love September's Yellow}

I couldn't get away from the yellow today. And I didn't mind one bit.

Best I love September's yellow,
Morns of dew-strung gossamer,
Thoughtful days without a stir,
Rooky clamours, brazen leaves,
Stubble dotten o'er with sheaves -- 
More than spring's bright uncontrol
Suit the autumn of my soul.

~Alexander Smith

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015


She's been grabbing pieces of paper for a year now. Scribbling out ideas, making lists, weighing the pros and cons. She's a planner. Kinda like her mama.

Her cousin would spend the night. There would be friends and cousins and games . . . and a hedgehog cake. The colors would be purple and green and everyone would play charades.

There would be doughnuts and bacon and fondue and strawberries on her "actual birthday." This girl knows what she wants in life. She's a visionary. Kinda like her daddy.

Her ears would be pierced and the celebration would last for the whole weekend.

There would be giggling and dancing and decorating. The theme would be: Small Animals. Especially Owls.

And she would be ten. This baby of mine, ten.

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Thursday, August 13, 2015


Tonight as I prepared for a meeting at a coffee shop, I had to resist the urge to don a petticoat and sweep up my hair in a large Gibson Girl knot. (I settled for a wrap-around skirt and casual updo.) This may sound strange. But not if you've been lost in Maud Hart Lovelace's endearing Betsy books as I have this past week.

You know how it is. (Or at least I hope you do. I dearly hope you do.) You get so lost in a story, the characters become so real, that before you know it, 1908 -- or wherever your book takes you -- becomes your reality. (1908 is a lovely reality, by the way. I've mentioned before how much I adore the Edwardian Era, have I not?)

One of the benefits of enjoying the Besty books in this day and age, I've realized, is that we now have access to the internet. When I come across an unfamiliar custom, costume, song or person as I read, I need only google the thing and voila, I've learned something!

This tool was especially helpful as I read Betsy in Spite of Herself, set in 1908 Minnesota and based on the author's actual high school experiences. The main characters (they call themselves The Crowd -- don't you love it?), often gather around the piano for entertainment. They pull out the latest sheet music and croon away.

The songs were new then, but they're over a hundred years old now. I don't know them. But I can look them up! I can even hear a recording. I've been "Dreaming" all week. My husband thinks I'm batty.

When I'm not dreaming, I'm thinking about Merry Widow Hats. (So, still kind of dreaming, I guess.) I learned that actress Lily Elsie, who played the lead in The Merry Widow operetta, was one of the most photographed women of the time. Isn't her hat to die for? It reminds me of Marian the Librarian's hat in The Music Man.

Speaking of which, my sister and I used to try to pull off the look when we were in high school. (Well, not literally in high school. We limited our theatrics to the home.) We were particularly smitten with the hats. Naturally we used black and white film to document with authenticity. 

The Music Man: Marian the Librarian
The Music Man: Eulalie Mackechnie Shinn

Eliza Dolittle (in her pre-Henry Higgins Days, of course)

But that was over 20 years ago. These days I force myself to remember that I'm a grown up and I try to do grown up things, like feed my children and fold the laundry. But lately, even as I'm doing these things, my mind wanders and I think about how lovely I'd be with a Gibson do. And the accompanying bored sigh. Surely this would be appropriate while folding laundry?

I snap to and realize I'm being ridiculous. But then I find myself in conversation with other women who "long for a ball" and giggle with delight over the thought of having tea parties and raspberry cordial. They love English Country dancing and the swish of petticoats. There are women who know that I will dress up at the drop of a hat and even join me in doing so. 

And then, on nights like tonight, I meet with dear-to-my-heart women who suggest, "We could dress up!" My heart skips a beat. Am I dreaming? No! There is hope. 

And I'll be working on that updo, just in case.   

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