The Birthright

The same oriental tea set that would sit unnoticed at a garage sale is priceless in my eyes. It is adopted as a precious possession because of whose it was.

My grandfather served in the Korean War and brought back this tea set imprinted with silver dragons for my grandmother.

She was priceless to me. Not just my grandmother, but someone I understood and someone who understood me. My father's mother: a soul mate born in the 1930s, a friend.

The year I became a wife, she died of a massive stroke.

So when what was hers becomes mine, it is precious. It is precious because it was hers, because it was passed down to me.

Her dining room table and chairs, her wooden hutch that holds my wedding crystal and our homeschooling books and art supplies, her odd little tomato pitcher, the framed picture of us together at my wedding (the last time I saw her in this life), and now her dragon tea set and a pair of white cups and saucers, covered with dancing red snowflakes.

These things are not her legacy. Her legacy is imprinted in me -- like blood it runs through me. Her legacy to love God and love people, to serve with His hands, and to pray for and encourage those she encountered.

I sit late at night, flipping through the pages of a worn Bible that smells like antique library books; a Bible that was hers, and before that, her mother's. I see her tiny script in the margins, TYF!, Thank you Father. I hear her voice giving thanks for the things He gives, and picture her hands receiving, even when the gift doesn't seem good.

Her things are not her legacy. They are just things. Her legacy is the rich wisdom and love with which she graced her children and grandchildren.

Without knowing Whose I am, perhaps I sit unnoticed and am passed by, without worth. Without knowing Who loves and care for me, maybe I am unlovable.

It is because of His blood I am precious. It is because of my spiritual birthright that I am a treasure. And it is because I know the Giver that I can learn to accept what is given, whether I would choose it or not.

Giving Thanks: The Good and The Bad

{Savoring the Sweet Moments with my Youngest}

Thanksgiving is one of my very favorite holidays because it is a day to focus on all we have for which to be grateful.

One of the reasons I love Ann Voskamp and her book One Thousand Gifts and her blog A Holy Experience, is her emphasis on giving thanks for all we have. But this is not just a fluffy, cotton-candy-and-rainbows giving thanks. Oh no... this is the learning how to give thanks for every specific little gift, and for all of the hard things too, so that my life becomes a form of worship back to God, every breath a prayer.

If you are reading and you are thinking, You have no idea what I'm struggling with right now. You must have it good, you are right. I have no idea what you're struggling with, my friend. And I do have it good. I have all I need and more. I am truly blessed.

And there are hard things too...

and the most recent, a terrible diagnosis for someone I love very much {please pray}

So because of the hard, I must keep counting the good. I must keep noticing it and taking stock of it, propping it on the shelves in my heart and pulling it to the forefront so it doesn't escape my sight.

Today, I keep taking stock of my Monday Mercies.

her blonde cornsilk hair and peaches & cream complexion
her long legs and Mama-like brown hair & another year of her life to celebrate
another day to notice and to worship
opportunities to speak love and encouragement
a second cup of coffee
clean sheets
colored Christmas lights strung across our little house
sunshine, God streaming across wooden floors
two hands, despite the swelling and aching
two legs, despite the occasional limping
a washer and a dryer, for recycling dirty into clean
a new prayer journal
spiral bindings to gather and hold, a pen to note and remember
the man that married me

Will you join me? Just start today. Start on a Post-it, if you like...


Therapy for a Spine and a Heart

Some mornings, my husband turns my heating pad on before he starts his day, so that as I continue to sleep, the moist heat will start to soak into my spine which has stiffened through the night. If I don't take the time to thaw my spine every morning, to use some heat, a hot shower and gentle stretching, my spine will be less flexible and more painful all day.

The joints in my spine may someday fuse into one solid bone; that is the proverbial mission of Ankylosing Spondylitis, the form of inflammatory arthritis I have that attacks the spine and other joints.

As unpleasant as this sounds, surely there are worse things.

What if my heart gets stiff? What if it becomes inflexible, cold, seized up? What if I don't take the time to thaw out my heart? What if bitterness or resentment inflame?

To allow His warmth to press into my heart, I must shower it with awareness, service, compassion and thanksgiving. I must learn to see with His eyes and serve with His hands and continually count the ways He loves and cares for me.

If I don't thaw out my heart, it may eventually fuse cold, hard, unyielding.

I must take care to ensure that doesn't happen.

I must train it, like I train my spine to stand tall and to gently bend in physical therapy. I do home exercises, standing tall and making my spine make contact with the wall. This is painful.

I must also do my heart exercises. I must exercise it to care, to serve, and always to show compassion; to keep it in contact with His heart.

If I work daily with my spine, it may not fuse. If I work daily with my heart, it surely can't.

daily gratitude to thaw a heart:

little girls in horsey pajamas
tomato soup for a rainy day
bread in the bread machine
electricity for a heating pad
His messages
music, such a gift
physical therapy to train a spine
small group Bible study to train a heart
a warm bed
unceasing grace for every day
cinnamon muffins hot from the oven
her 7 year-old voice singing, "When We All See Jesus"
her 4 year-old kisses


My Wish List

I long to inspire.

I want to write and publish.

I want my words to be healing and a gift.

I want to love my community well and to be loved well in return.

I want to be authentic, not fake or pretentious.

I want to never stop looking for the beauty around me.

I want to make art, write poetry, read literature and great memoirs, bake things that make our house smell like a home; not limit myself or put my talents in boxes.

I want to be a remarkable mother.

I want to be grateful, not resentful.

I hope that by sharing my loss journey, other bereaved mothers will feel less alone.

I dream of a storybook childhood for my daughters, as they are my storybook dream.

I want to light a spark in them: a thirst to create, to read, to love well, to be kind, to express themselves, to learn and be curious and observant; always to grow.

I want to creatively document this one wonderful life I am given.

What do you want?


Story Made Beautiful

I want to thank you for being here with me Thursday, as I used some of my courage to not only remember our baby {that is so easy to do} but to speak his name.


Your comments and your tears were a gift, and I thank you.

6 years. Shocking that it has been that long, but as you know if you've read this story before, I had a healthy child afterward, in the midst of some years which are easiest to describe as the years of Perpetual Operations.

Not only was she healthy, she was hearty -- born pink, crying, 9 pounds and 8 ounces of second chance.

Today she is tall, lanky, and turning FIVE this month. A "rainbow baby", or baby after a loss, she is my breathing representation of grace; a symbol of God's presence in my story.

We named her Natalie Kate.

Having children was my life-long dream and there were a few times when I thought it might not come true. Life threw obstacles. And yet, here they are, these little women, my dreams come to life.

So humbling. So humbling that He saw fit to allow me to be a mother, their mother. So humbling that it worked out, in spite of, despite, the obstacles.

I am so grateful. Soaked through to the bone with gratitude. This was what I yearned for, and they are here. Not all three, no...

Not all three, and that is hard.

But these two, Hannah and Natalie, they are here and they are breathing and growing, and I breathe thanksgiving and grow faith.

He has made my story beautiful, even with not-so-beautiful ingredients.

Breathing gratitude today.


A Baby with a Name

{our sweet firstborn, touched by loss at a young age}

Six years ago today I went to the hospital, pregnant with a baby with no heartbeat. Some hours later I went home to my pig-tailed firstborn, not quite two years old, no longer expecting our second, a baby we were going to name Benjamin Jack or Sierrah Grace.

Some weeks later, in the beginning stages of grief, Jonathan and I decided to name our lost baby. I have never shared that name publicly. It has felt too personal to me, too sacred.

We named our sweet little one Jordan.

Jordan means "Descendant" which I loved because this was our child, whether we got to keep him (?) or not. Jordan can be a boy name or a girl name, and although we have always felt our baby was a boy, we have no proof of that and no way to know.

I loved that it is a Hebrew name, just as Hannah is. I liked that even in death, they shared something.

I also loved that this baby, so wanted and so loved, had a name that began with the same letter as both of his parents.

So there's no birth certificate, no hospital baby bracelet, no ink-stamped little footprints, no announcement picture. But there's another child in my heart. Not just Hannah and Natalie, but Hannah, Jordan and Natalie. I have two living children; two here to hold and to raise, and a third I hold in my heart.

Jordan Lynn: carried in my womb for 10 weeks; carried in my heart for a lifetime.

Never forgotten, not for a day. Particularly remembered every year on this date, November 10th.


Relearning to Simplify

"The average woman today, I believe, would do well to appraise her interests, evaluate the activities in which she is engaged, and then take steps to simplify her life, putting things of first importance first, placing emphasis where the rewards will be greatest and most enduring, and ridding herself of the less rewarding activities."
{Belle S. Spafford}

I believe that in order to live a life of balance and joy, we must determine what our priorities are and then guard the space around them, so that we can attend to them well. 

My main priorities are my marriage, my faith, my daughters, my home and home life, my family, friends and community, writing, journaling and Live Art.fully. These are the things and people I live for. They comprise such a full life that I must be careful to limit the other areas where I expend energy.

I am relearning this week how to safeguard my time and energy so that I can live and love better.

What are your priorities? What measures do you take to safeguard them?
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