Thrive

As the sun rose over the lush forest valley, a hidden fountain sang its Morning Song over all the living things:

Come to the fountain
Oh come to the stream
Come to the waters
Oh come and be free

Thrive woke to the tune and stretched out her branches, “Another lo-o-vely day,” she said.

She stooped to greet the droplets at her toes, “Hello Dew, how do you do?”
Dew gleamed.

She lifted her leaves and waved, “Good morning Sun. It’s good to see you.”
Sun beamed.

She reached up to the sky, “Good morning Rainshower, would you be ever so kind?”
Rainshower bowed and poured out her favor.

“Why, thank you!” she cheered.

Every day Thrive greeted Dew, Sun, and Rainshower. And every day Dew, Sun and Rainshower greeted her back. Dew refreshed her roots, Sun warmed her leaves, and Rainshower washed her anew. Every day rang with the same gifts and gratitude, the same new mercies. And every day the hidden fountain sang the Morning Song over all the living things:

Come to the fountain
Oh come to the stream
Come to the waters
Oh come and be free

That is, until every day became one sad day.
On that day, the Morning Song still sang, but when Thrive greeted Dew, Sun and Rainshower, they did not greet her back.

“Rainshower! Oh Rainshower?” she called.

She waited.
And waited.

Night came, and then the morning.

“Oh Dew? Where are you?” she asked.

She waited
And waited.

Night came, and then the morning.

“Sun, dear Sun,” she sighed. “It’s so very hot, and I’m so very dry. Can you hide away a while?”

She waited.
And waited.

But Sun only shone hotter.

The dirt cracked under her feet. Her branches slumped. Her leaves withered.  
She wanted to cry, but no tears fell. She was dry inside, so very dry.

“There is no water in this dry desert land,” she groaned.

A voice came like a mist and sang a gentle tune, How can you be sure?

“Hello? Who’s there?” Thrive twisted her trunk, searching for the source of the mysterious melody.  She recognized that voice, she heard it every morning.

“I see that you are dry,” said the voice.

“Of course I’m dry. Rainshower is nowhere to be found. And Dew is all gone too.”

“Have you heard my Morning Song?”

“Oh I knew I recognized your voice! You're the one who sings the Morning Song, aren't you?"

"Every morning."

"But I don't understand. The waters all around have dried up and yet I still hear your song about coming to the waters. Dew is gone, Rainshower is empty, Sun is harsh and your Morning Song just reminds me that I'm so thirsty. It’s not fair.”

“Why haven’t you come, Thrive?”

“Come? Come WHERE?”

“To the waters, Thrive. Why haven’t you come the waters?”

“Well, how would I do that? I don’t see any water!”

“Come.”

Thrive paused, unsure.

“Your roots are light and loose now. You’ll find that you can lift them up and walk. Come with me to the waters.”

Real water? Could it be?  Hope began to rise within her but the thought of leaving the only soil she ever knew seemed too risky.  "I don't know," she whispered.

"You need water and I know where it is. Come now, let's go."

Thrive was dying of thirst. If she didn't get water soon, would she survive? Desperate, she flexed her roots and shook the old soil to the ground. “Okay, I’m not so sure about this, but here I am. What next?” she asked.

“Right this way,” the kind voice said.

She lifted her dry roots and stomped one in front of the other. She trekked under the moonlight, over the dusty earth, until the hills began to glow in twilight. The sun rose over the dry forest valley and the hidden fountain began to sing over all the living the things. The song resounded louder than ever:

Come to the fountain
Oh come to the stream
Come to the waters
Oh come and be free

I'm getting close, she thought. She quickened her pace and chased the tune until the sound of a rushing stream began to harmonize with the melody.

“Water!” she gasped.

The fountain surged with white rapids into a beautiful blue stream. The strong current cut a deep narrow path through the territory and overflowed on the shoreline.

“Welcome." This time the voice came straight from the source of the stream, the fountain.

Thrive stood in awe.

“You’ll have all the water you need in this place. Come, settle in on this shore, be nourished by my voice, take in the waters of my words every morning and every night.”

She stretched out her roots, dug them into the cool rich soil, and guzzled in the waters.
Her trunk softened, her branches lifted and her leaves grew back - thriving.

We might be like Thrive, good at celebrating goodness when it’s good, but tired and confused when good gifts run dry. We were made for a fountain deeper, truer, and more steadfast than our circumstances. His name is Jesus and His words are life.

Let’s take a minute to read slowly, even if you've read this before - pause and take in His words now:

"Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers."
-Psalm 1:1-6

"This is what the Lord says: 'Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord. That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.'”
-Jeremiah 17:5-8

#bafflingpeace,

 

 

                                                                          
 

Photo credit: Weejohnmurray, "Stream" at Flickr: http://bit.ly/2l9v0h7 Used with permission.

Happy Birthday Charis

Charis came into the world breathless...from pink to grey her color faded. They intervened. But she remained without air.

I heard them call for emergency crews. I called aloud to Jesus - and immediately, at His name, she inhaled her first taste of oxygen. We exhaled tearful praise. I held her as close as I could, whispering her name, "Charis," meaning: grace. And she was...she is - such gift of grace. 

She is tenacious - watching her, I learn the relentlessness of God's grace. She teaches me to persist. I see her persevere - and I'm reminded to brace myself upon His strength, to overcome and stand in hope. She lightens me up - leading me low to learn the messy manners of humility

I love this girl. So much.

Today we celebrate three years of her humorous, precocious, and adventurous spirit.
Three years of hope, wonder and curiosity. 
Three years of her grace-filled lungs. 

Happy Birthday Charis!

Photo taken by: Papa (Grandpa DeNard)

Photo taken by: Papa (Grandpa DeNard)

Photo by Auntie Lisa: www.photographybylisajones.com

Photo by Auntie Lisa: www.photographybylisajones.com

Photo taken by Auntie Andrea: www.andrealaurita.com 

Photo taken by Auntie Andrea: www.andrealaurita.com 

I'll Look Back and Miss This

She saunters down the hallway in her footie pajamas. She smells like morning breath and her hair zigs wild. I lift her on a stool to hug her tall. I lean my head down to her chest and listen to her heartbeat, the sound of alive. She grows ticklish at the thought I might blow on her tummy and jumps off the stool in my arms before I'm ready. Her eyes laugh and her dimples catch the shadows. DeCelie, little Miracle, I love you.

I cup her face and stare deep until every detail is memorized. How the dip below her nose drips down soft to meet her lip. The way her upper lip weighs heavier than the the one below it, puckered and pink. I notice how her hair turns counterclockwise until half way down the lock where it curls to match the clock’s spin. She cups my face in her hands and squeezes until through fish lips my voice mushes into a lisped gurgle. Chawis, sweet gwace, I wuv oo. 

I scoop him up and bury my lips in his cheek. He pats my face, grunts out laughter, and his smile overtakes his face. I blow on his tummy and he kicks me away, tormented in joy. I chase him down the hallway growling, “I’m gonna get yous” as I mimic his one-year-old, cowboy-ish gait. He slows down and peers back at me, the little flirt, teasing me to come again. I dash and catch him, inhale his squeals, and lift him upside down in the air. Isaiah, son...I love you buddy.

phonto (13).jpg

One day I’ll miss this...all of this.

One day, Lord willing, DeCelie will stand tall and I will hug her shoulder to shoulder without a stool. Charis’ face will blossom from girl to young woman and I’ll need to memorize every detail new. Isaiah will grow into that dashing smile and girls will chase him down school hallways. And then one day, oh Lord prepare us, D'Arcy and I will blink and boom - they’ll be out of the house.

On that “one day”, if I'm blessed to see it...I’ll look back with eyes blurry, tears burning, and miss this.

So while it’s still here - I'll keep my eyes open and squeeze the moment for every drop of joy it offers.

I'll miss this, one day.
So while it’s still here - I won’t miss it. 


Lord, may I live eyes open and heart full. 
I don’t wanna miss a thing.

                            




P.S. This post was also shared with Holley Gerth at "Coffee for you <3".
For more encouragement visit her site by clicking the couch below:

Inspired by Mayhem's Paper Dresses (Part 3 Birthday Style)

I was still traumatized from the “painting-the-tissue-paper-fiasco”. So when DeCelie asked to make another paper dress (the very next day), I sort of went into fight or flight mode before coming to my senses…

“Tell ya what, on your fourth birthday we will make another dress. It will be so fun!”

She seemed happy about that...and with her birthday still a month away, I now had a chance to recover.

The paper dress became the subject of conversation nearly every day following.

The dress would need purple gloves,
a pink stripe down the middle,  
and flowers on the top.
“Like a princess. Don't forget...K, mom?”

She had it all drawn out.  And soon all her plans would be realized.

In preparation, I was sure to buy colored tissue paper...no way would we be painting the white stuff this time. And on the eve of her celebration day, D'Arcy (my husband) and I decided to decorate the house with cheap birthday stuff while the kids snored unsuspecting.

I could see his inner boy glow as he imagined her surprise. “She’s gonna be so excited,” he said, giddy.

Soon enough our simple “drape the entry way with a few balloons,” spiraled into sprinkling nearly every square foot of the house with a splash of birthday-whimsy.

In the morning, freshly four years old, she woke up to a ceiling loaded with streamers and birthday string. “Whoa,” she whispered, “Momma, what’s this for...is this for my birthday?” She slowly descended down the hallway in awe, like she was entering a castle.

And all this for $2? Winner!

After a big breakfast, we got started with the long awaited paper dress...measuring and cutting, taping and decorating.

Although I told myself we’d never paint tissue paper again, amnesia struck...and I prepared a space for DeCelie to paint her own flower design on the white tissue bodice. Thankfully, Amnesia turned out to be a lovely friend. No rips this time. No eye twitches either. Exhale!

I accidentally attached the bodice to the skirt, upside down. Amnesia, you were supposed to be my friend.  
DeCelie was patient with me and decided it didn’t matter. Bless her heart.
Then once gloves were attached and glittered….(yes, we glittered AFTER attaching them to her arms.)

...it was time for the catwalk.

I call it, Super-shero meets Princess Pretty…

Daughter in paper birthday dress #inspiredbymayhem

Daughter in paper birthday dress #inspiredbymayhem

Homemade pedicures followed. And lipstick, lots of lipstick.

DeCelie’s BFF, walked across the courtyard to join us for a living room matinee. After popcorn, the movie just played in the background, while they preferred to rough-house with the balloons.

Grandma came bearing gifts. The girls put on an impromptu theater production for us, some sort of musical about a dog show...their most obscure yet.

And Daddy came home early from work with her favorite restaurant food in tow.

To top it off, after dinner, DeCelie and I went on a special one-on-one adventure to find some birthday cake. I didn’t know where to go so I just planned to drive until I found the word, “Delicious” or “Cake” somewhere in big bold letters. “The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory” were even better words, so we parked.

It just so happened we arrived right as they were making a batch of fudge. Apparently, this live demonstration is something they do every week at that very hour. Lucky us!  We watched amused and then ordered our goodies and lined up to pay. But, um..hmmm...

“Sorry…” I told the cashier as I patted all my pockets frantically.

“Wait, just a sec.”

I started sweating.

“Oh boy.” (nervous laughter).

(slow blink)

Amnesia, was not a lovely friend.

After driving back for my wallet and then driving back to the factory, we arrived home - this time with some goodies and a non-traditional chocolate-covered, cheesecake-on-a-stick for the birthday girl.

Now it was time for the "make a wish and blow out the candles" tradition.
Couldn't miss it.

But I forgot the birthday candles…

So we lit a household votive instead.
And sang the birthday song.

DeCelie fluttered her eyes shut
and made a wish.

She narrowed her lips
and blew out the candle.

Then we showed Daddy the paper dress.

The one with the purple gloves,
a pink stripe down the middle,  
and flowers on the top.

I did a lot of forgetting that day.
But this...“No baby, I won’t forget.”

                                        

 

                                     

P.S. Two take away tips: 1. Spread your kiddo's birthday budget over a day of fun that you'll both enjoy.
And...2. Do not call amnesia your friend. 

                                                    

Inspired by Mayhem's Paper Dresses (Part 2)

DeCelie jumped up and down, excited to make another "paper dress".
Our first get-up was so fun, I was quick to agree.
Yes. We absolutely must.

Inspired by some of the fashion I saw at the Oscars, I Googled an image of Lupita Nyong'o in her gorgeous, pale blue, designer gown and asked DeCelie what she thought.

"Her skin is brown like mine, kinda!" she said, eyes bright. "Her dress is sooo pretty!"

And at that, we began.

We only had white tissue paper. And since I was reluctant to go to the store for a light blue variety, I dug through my acrylic paints.

“We will paint the tissue paper,” I said...like a lunatic.

Yes...for alien reasons, incoherent to humanity, I lobotomized all my good sense that morning and decided we should paint. the. tissue. paper.

How hard could it be? The article I Googled made it sound so easy.

Pffffffffft!

I considered suing the author of that site after the tissue paper ripped a grand total of one thousand times. And after rip #1,001...I was on the phone with my pretend lawyer. My eye was twitching. I could not go on...

“We might need to scratch this," I exhaled. DeCelie put her paintbrush down and literally scratched the paper. I slapped my hand to my forehead. Noticing my expression, Charis shouted with enthusiasm, "Don't give up Momma!" And seriously, after that...what choice had I?

I found my perseverance.
Released perfectionism.
And kept on...

The paint dried, Charis added glitter and we repaired all the tears with clear tape. My twitch went away. Hair was prepped. Clip-on accessories were applied.

And now, everything was ready for the big red carpet moment…

Left:&nbsp; Lupita Nyong'o at the Oscars,&nbsp;  Photo: Rex &nbsp;/ &nbsp;Right: Daughter in Paper Replica #inspiredbymayhem

Left: Lupita Nyong'o at the Oscars, Photo: Rex  /  Right: Daughter in Paper Replica #inspiredbymayhem

DeCelie danced in the dress until the train ripped off. By the time it was sister’s turn, the gown was nearly half of what it was to begin with…but regardless, Charis wore it proud. 

Even though the dress lasted only minutes upon completion, I can honestly say it was worth the effort.

I got to see the girls persevere and inspire Momma to do the same.

And wow, to see them so giddy and glamorous in their finished product?

...Oh yes, it was worth every rip and twitch.

* * * 
But would I do it again? Mmm...uhh...

Well, actually...we did. Yes. Eventually, I recovered from this fantastic fiasco and caved in to my daughter's enthusiastic requests to make another. 

Inspired by Mayhem's Paper Dresses (Part 1)

A few months ago I spied something sensational...a picture of an adorable little girl wearing a paper dress.

I learned she goes by the alias, "Mayhem" and you can find her all over the web in dresses made of construction paper, athletic tape, Christmas wrap, and tissue.

Immediately, I knew my own little fashionista would be inspired by Mayhem’s masterpieces. DeCelie would request paper. She’d ask for help reaching the scissors. She'd want to get started right away. Charis - who cares more about puzzles, books and sports - would cheer her sister on and find all of this so amusing.

Together we’d have a ball making wearable art.

So the next day while Isaiah napped and Charis played with her favorite things, we scavenged for materials we had on hand and got started.

DeCelie chose the neckline style and which ribbons she desired (all of them, as it turned out). She recruited help painting all the rectangles and gave us orders to paint each block only one color. It didn’t matter the color as long as the watercolors were not mixed. Her vision was fixed. And she was determined to complete this task in one sitting.

I taped everything together and before Isaiah woke up the girls were ready for the runway...

We had so much fun, a week didn't go by before we made another paper dress.

Inspired by Lupita N’yong’o’s 2014 Oscar gown, it turned out fantastic...
though the process was a famous fiasco
---

This post was shared with Holley Gerth and her friend's.
For encouragement, click on the fancy couch:

Daddy Ballerina

The Nutcracker overture fills the room. DeCelie puts the plastic microphone in my hand,  “Mom, you say ladies and gentlemen.” She runs backstage, (A.K.A. the hallway,) and awaits her introduction.

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, presenting…”

She prances in with her smile spread wide. Her four year old body lifts in a leap and she twirls on tippy toes. Her expression whispers grace and her hands float delicately at her sides. A natural. She begins singing, a little less naturally, a song she is making up as she goes.

“I love to dance, I love ballet, I like my Mom, I like my Dad, I like my Father, I lovieeee!!!” Her volume increases at the note we assume to be her last. She pauses and it’s confirmed so we clap and yell, “Brava!…Brava!” Her head drops to her waist and her arms flare out to her sides to bow. “Dank you everyone.”

It is Charis’ turn now so DeCelie ushers the little dancer backstage.

“Ladies and gentlemen, boy and girls, presenting…”

Charis comes in just like her big sister. She is ready to sing but DeCelie decides she needs encouraging words, “Don’t be shy”… “Dont be ‘fraid.” They shout whispers back and forth in each other’s ears before Charis begins to sing. Then she too ends on a dramatic note and bows deep with a grateful word.

After multiple costume changes and new selections of “ballet wu-sic,” Daddy says he’s “feeling it” and gets up to join in on the fun. He twirls and floats, kicks and poses. His eyebrows are fixed. He’s serious. He lauds his own moves, “Did you see that?…That was good!” I can’t stop giggling. My side hurts. My cheeks ache. Joy can grow so big it hurts.

He lifts each ballerina in the air and a symphony of laughter rises to meet their heights. Daddy’s sweating now and prepares to take his final bow. But the girls love this ballet concert and never want it to end.

So Encore.
Encore!


Jesus Sees Us Everywhere?

“Mom? Jesus sees us everywhere?”

Curious to find the “blue” from which the question came, I glanced back at her through the rear view mirror. Her neck was stretched out as she sought to catch the full scenic view from her car seat. I looked out too. The grey horizon canvas. The blurry trees and cars.

“Under the covers?”

I gave up searching for a contextual cue and answered, “Yes, under the covers. God sees us everywhere, sweetheart.”

“Yep, under the covers…under the table…in the ‘frigerator…outside…He is everywhere!”

I smiled agreeing, “Yes! Yes He is.”

The quiet hum of the car returned. And I pondered.

Our God is a God who sees everything. Everywhere.

I drove, mouth gaped and mind wrestling, trying to fathom. I thought about the word omnipresence and how its bigness might steal some of the wonder…the big wonder I sensed in that moment.

We came to a stop and I put on the blinker. A silent simple prayer came with the turn,  “Thank You Lord”.

I don’t remember where we were going that day. But on the way there my heart got somewhere memorable…

to a place of worship and awe,

a place of seeking the God who sees.