Time Well-Spent

I wanted to let you know that during June, July and August I will post on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule instead of five days/week. While this may not be the very best platform-building strategy, it's a necessity for my family right now.

You see, I have two boys, ages six and nearly-ten. And these two boys love nothing more than to spend time with me and their dad. How much longer will that last, I ask myself? Another year, or two or three? So while I am still doing everything in my power to build a viable platform and get my book published, if that does indeed come to fruitition someday, I wouldn't want it ever to be at the expense of my family.

So instead of five posts a week this summer, I'll be doing a little more of this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

And I hope you will, too!

What kinds of summer fun do you have planned? And do you have any strategies for eeking out a little more relaxation and fun and a little less work? Do share!


Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday: The Forever Advocate

A sermon planted the seed. As I listened to Pastor Greg preach, I realized he was talking directly to me. He didn’t know it of course. His goal was to inspire Southwood’s members to evangelize – to reach out to the “unchurched” people – friends, relatives, neighbors – and invite them into a relationship with God. What Pastor Greg didn’t know was that I was the one who needed to hear the invitation. Sure I sat in church on Sunday mornings. Sure I sang the hymns and repeated the prayers. But I wasn’t really there.

I went home after church that morning five years ago, walked downstairs to our basement office, sat at the computer and typed an email to Pastor Greg. I asked if we could meet to talk. I didn’t know him. He didn’t know me. I wasn’t sure exactly what we’d talk about or even whether I’d  follow through it. But purely on impulse I hit “Send,” and it wasn’t long before I saw the reply in my in-box.

I bit my thumbnail ragged on the drive over to the church later that week, and I seriously considered bailing. But in the end I knocked on his office door, and in the course of our conversation I admitted to Pastor Greg that I didn’t think I believed in God. I remember feeling scared by this public admission; it was the first time I had told anyone about the depths of my doubts. It was the first time I had truly admitted it to myself. I steeled myself for a lecture, but that’s not what I got. Instead, Pastor Greg simply told me that all hope was not lost, and that he believed the Holy Spirit was working within me and had brought me to his office that day.

I absolutely did not believe him. I nodded yes, very good, lovely, thank you for your time. And I went on my way. But a funny thing happened. Although I didn’t believe him at the time, his words stuck with me. And they were enough to plant a glimmer of hope.

Before Jesus ascended to Heaven, he told the disciples that although they would no longer be able to see him, he would still be with them, within them, in the form of the Holy Spirit:

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever…You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. I will not leave your orphaned; I am coming to you.” (John 14:16-18)
I’ll admit, the Holy Spirit is the one entity of the trinity that troubles me the most. I get God (sort-of). I can wrap my mind around Jesus, because he was incarnated in a human form. But the Holy Spirit? A presence? A ghost? A spirit inside of me? That I don’t get.

Yet when I look back at how my faith journey has unfurled in the last five years, I see that Pastor Greg was right. The Holy Spirit was indeed working within me; I simply can’t explain it any other way.

Last week my best friend Andrea sat in a doctor’s office and listened as her dad was diagnosed with stage four incurable cancer. She told me on the phone that she had prayed all day prior to the meeting that she would find strength and calm during the appointment. And when she sat next to her father as the doctor reported the diagnosis and prognosis, she told me that she felt an immediate sense of calm and peace flow through her. “I had prayed for the Holy Spirit," she told me later that evening. “And it was the Holy Spirit."

Andrea heard the devastating news no daughter ever wants to hear, yet she was filled with an inexplicable calm and peace. The Holy Spirit, God himself, was with her in that room. Is with her right now, today and tomorrow and always.

I can’t explain it. I can’t quite get my head around it. But I believe it in my heart.

“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.” (John 14:18)
And please, will you pray for my dearest friend Andrea, her father, Bill, her mother, Mary Ann and her brother, Billy, that they may feel God's presence with them today, tomorrow and always? I am grateful.  - Michelle 

Welcome to the "Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday" community. If you are here for the first time, feel free to click here for details and instructions on how to link up.

Or you can simply copy the code for the "Hear It, Use It" button in the sidebar to the right, and paste it into your own post. Remember to including the link to your post down below...not your blog address -- that way visitors can be sure to read the right post.

Typically we write about the lesson we read or the sermon we heard in church on Sunday. That said, I am pretty loosey-goosey – you can write about a verse or even a hymn that you've been pondering anytime recently. Also, you can come by anytime during the week to link up – it stays open until Friday.

Thanks so much for participating...and don't forget to visit other participants and comment on their thoughts this week if you can. It's wonderful to have you here...

{And my sincerest apologies if I did not come by to read and comment on your linked-up post last week. It was the final week of school around here, with music performances, field trips, field day, teacher gifts and ice cream parties – jeesh! I got a little overwhelmed with it all!}


Gifts in Pictures

Jotting, jotting into that cheap Walgreen's notebook that sits on the kitchen counter. Sometimes a line or two from one of the kids or Brad -- "sweet lime popsickle," "cardinal sitting on her nest" -- but mostly it's gifts I list from one day to the next, eyes always on God and this holy ground.

My list in pictures this week...just for fun (and because it's the last day of school, and it's crazy with kindergarten graduation, ice cream parties, music performances, teacher gift buying, card-making, field-day-playing, zoo-trip-taking galore!):

360 Pollen-dusted noses

361 Scent of peony blowing in through the car window

362 Five four-leaf clovers found by Noah [I've never even found one in my life...but maybe it's because I've never really looked?]

363 Husband bringing cup of coffee to me upstairs while I put on my makeup

364 Sharpened pencils

365 Sleepy boy snuggles

366 Kindergarteners singing their hearts out and a music teacher with more energy than any other human being on Earth

367 Mrs. Lammers: the best kindergartener teacher ever, hands-down

368 Baking cookies and washing potatoes with our church group

369 Weeding [yes, it is too a gift -- especially when the kids help!]

370 Front porch chats

371 Hand-me-downs from the Shoe Fairy

372 A surprise gift tucked into the mailbox

May you look and really see his hand and heart this weekend. He is with us. He is everywhere.

* A couple of these pictures are from 2010 [I know, I'm cheatin' a little]


It's Almost Summer...What a Bummer

I’m just going to put this right out there: am I the only mother not cartwheeling in delight at the thought of summer vacation? At the thought that tomorrow is the last day of school? At the incomprehensible notion that my two offspring will now be home seven days a week for ten consecutive weeks?

I have The Dread. It’s the truth, people.

Is it because Rowan will surely repeat, “What can I dooooooo?” in twelve-minute increments beginning tomorrow at 3:39 p.m. and continuing until 9 a.m. August 16?

Is it because the percentage of burps and guffaws and conversations including the words “bum” and “poop” will increase substantially over the next ten weeks?

Is it because when the thermometer tops 85 degrees Noah will collapse into a sweaty heap and complain that he can’t sleep because his legs are too sticky?

Is it because Rowan will beg to play Super Mario Brothers from the moment his toes touch the floor at 7 a.m. until the second he hits the pillow at 8 p.m. for 80 days straight?

Did you answer “All of the Above?”

Dingdingding! You are correct – all those reasons and then some!

Oh, and did I mention I’ll be eeking out the time to write five blog posts a week about God and faith amidst burps and toots and chatter about bums?

I’m not making any promises here…but it could get ugly.

…80 more days … I think I’ll go mix up a pitcher of margaritas…

Come on, admit it: who’s with me here? Who has even the teeniest bit of dread that summer vacation has arrived?

*Of course, pictures like the one of Rowan from last summer just *might* make me change my tune about summer. I remember that day clearly -- he had a blast! [and so did I!]


A Hell of a Question

A few months ago Noah came up behind me as I sat at the computer. “Mommy?” he asked, hovering behind my left shoulder. “Mmmmm?” I answered, still typing. “Mommy, do Jewish people go to Hell?”

I stopped typing.

My first thought was why? Why do I always get these questions? Why doesn’t Divinity Degree Dad get the Hell questions? Why is The Waffler dealt all the religious wild cards?

My second thought was to volley the question right back at Brad. “Why don’t we wait till your father…” I stopped myself mid-sentence. I can’t always default to Mr. Divinity, right? I can’t be known as the Spiritual Sluggard forever, right?

“Well, honey, I really don’t know,” I began. “But to tell you the truth, I personally don’t think Jewish people are in Hell, just because they don’t believe Jesus is the son of God.”

“But doesn’t the Bible say we have to believe in Jesus to get into Heaven, and don’t Jewish people not believe in Jesus?” pressed Noah.

I tackled the semantics first to buy some time. “Well, it’s not that Jewish people don’t believe Jesus existed,” I clarified. “But just that he isn’t the son of God.”

“But what about the Hell part?” Noah pressed again. The kid was relentless.

In the end, I don’t know that I gave Noah a Biblically sound answer. In the end, I don’t know if I gave him the right Christian answer. But I know I gave him the answer from my heart. I told Noah that I don’t believe all Jews burn in Hell because they don’t believe Jesus is the Messiah, but also that I don’t know who burns in Hell and who doesn’t, because it’s not for me, or him, to decide or know. The decision and the knowledge, I told Noah, is God's alone.

A cop-out? Maybe.

A couple of weeks ago Brad mentioned an article he read on CNN.com entitled, “Is Judas in Heaven or Hell?”

“Well there’s a no-brainer,” I scoffed, tossing chopped yellow pepper into a bowl. “Out of anybody, I think we can be pretty sure that Judas is in Hell. He betrayed Jesus. You don't get much worse than Judas.”

“How do you know that for sure?” Brad asked me. “Judas repented. He clearly regretted the betrayal. So who’s to say Jesus didn’t forgive him? How can you assume Judas is in Hell? How can you assume anyone is Hell?”

Oh. I hadn’t really thought about it that way.

This week I finished Rob Bell’s latest book, Love Wins. And of course, the question of Heaven and Hell -- and who gets in and who doesn't -- is essentially what Bell’s book is about and what’s caused so much controversy in Christian circles.

I admit, Bell’s theology seems a little fuzzy in spots, and I’m certainly no theological powerhouse (as we’ve already established), but I don’t think the question is all that complicated, when it comes right down to it.

Initially I was stumped by John 14:6 and how this verse relates to the question at hand: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6) sounds like pretty narrow criteria. No one comes to God except through Jesus. Enough said, right?

Except, that is, when you consider the Trinity – the belief that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are all one. While it’s hard to wrap my rational mind around the logistics of the Trinity, it seems to me that according to the Trinity, Jesus is God. So perhaps the verse “No one comes to the Father except through me” is not so narrow after all. In fact, perhaps it's incredibly, lavishly broad.

All this questioning is well and good, but in the end, it’s pointless. The questions are moot, simply because I don’t decide who gets in to Heaven and who doesn’t. Frankly, the questions are moot because I’m not supposed to figure it all out. It’s not my job.

“The questions may be interesting as an intellectual exercise, and it may be spiritually beneficial to ask these questions, but ultimately these aren’t questions we can reasonably answer, because we always have to defer to the sovereignty of God.”

That’s Divinity Dad’s answer. Now can you see why I like to defer to him?

So what do you think about this question of Heaven and Hell and who "gets in" and who doesn't? Honestly I don't write very often about controversial topics here, so this is pretty out there for me. But feel free to comment honestly; I'd love to hear your thoughts, too.


Listening through the Mundane

I look long at his finger, so small as it glides beneath the sentence, pausing at each word. His voice is small, too, I notice. And the way he pronounces “l” like “w” every now and then. There’s still a hint of baby in Rowan – in the crease of bent elbow, in doughy upper thigh, the spot so ticklish.

He labors, sounding out each syllable, finger pointing word by word by word. I am folded next to him on the bed, Go, Dog, Go propped between us. I watch the small finger.

I’m afraid I’ve let most slip like silk ribbon through fingertips. Ubiquitous and relentless as a mid-August sun, most of these moments have flashed unnoticed. I’ve stopped infrequently. I’ve watched little. I’ve listened not nearly enough. I assume that because there seems to be so many now, they might always be, this everyday, these moments. The sacred mundane.

* * *

It is his voice that stops me short as I pluck dirty socks and stray sneakers and Magic Treehouse paperbacks from the living room floor.

I sit on the edge of the couch, crumpled socks balled in hand, sneakers tucked under arm, and stare at the television. Brad and the boys are watching an old home video. A toddler lurches past infant balanced in the bouncy chair. It’s Noah's cherubic voice I hear as he waddles on screen, Noah at three years old. It’s been six years since I’ve heard that voice.

I don’t think I ever really heard it until now.

“I can’t believe his voice sounded like that,” I say, eyes still on the television. “How could I never have noticed that voice?”

I turn to Brad. “How could I never have heard that sweet voice?” I ask. “Listen to it. Have you ever heard anything so sweet as that?”

* * *

Rowan slumps deeper into the pillows, props the book on pajama pants, turns the page, positions an index finger under the first word. He begins again, sounding out. I close my eyes and listen.

How do you tune into the sacred in the mundane?


She Skypes

What is Skype?
Image from flicker.
“So do you prefer Skype or the telephone?” she asked, and I thought, “Great. Just great,”when I read her email. “First the blog. Then Facebook and Twitter and TweetDeck chirping at me from the desktop like submarine sonar all day. And now I have to Skype, too? For the love.”

I thought about lying. After all, this was only my second conversation ever with my agent. I didn’t want her to think I was a backward hick from Nebraska who’d never Skyped before, for crying out loud.

I know, I know, your 89-year-old grandmother Skypes.

What can I say? Maybe I am a backward hick from Nebraska. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that we ditched our antiquated telephone, the one with the cord that curled up into a tangled mass resembling something a cat might regurgitate onto the carpet.

Yes, for the record, we still use a landline at our home. But hey, we’re savvy enough to have invested in a cordless phone. That’s progress, right? (Although my cell phone flips open, which I suspect is gravely uncool).

So I considered lying to Rachelle. I considered emailing back with an effortless, “Absolutely! Skype rocks! Skype me!” (Or whatever the proper Skype terminology is – I would have had to Google it first, of course).

But then I thought about how I might have to get up an hour early to take a shower and blow dry my hair and select an outfit that made me look writerly yet edgy yet fashionable. And I thought about how I would have to Google Skype to figure out how to do it and whether or not I had the appropriate equipment. And then I wondered if I would have to clear my counters of empty Yoplait containers and dust the venetian blinds, because who knows how much one can see via Skype anyway? And I thought about how I would have to act suave and unflummoxed, like I Skyped with my plumber and my great aunt Mary every week so that Rachelle wouldn’t realize a profound cyber evolution was transpiring right before her very eyes.

Frankly, all that technological angst over a phone call made me tired. And so finally I thought that perhaps I should simply be myself and admit that my preference is the telephone.

So that’s what I did. And we had a pleasant chat, Rachelle and I. And I wore my too-tight yoga pants and my black Woolrich slippers with white running socks, and I didn’t wear lipstick at all, and my blinds remained covered in dust.

The following week I read this post on Rachelle’s blog, in which she detailed seven reasons why writers might want to use Skype (and yes, I was a hair paranoid that she wrote it with me in mind). She answered many of my questions, and now I am slightly more prepared to maybe, just maybe, Skype with my agent next time we talk.

On second thought I think I’ll make a trial Skype run with my parents first. My mom will tell me if she detects dust on the blinds for sure.

So how about you? Are you Skype savvy? Do you like it? Or are you still using two tin cans like me?


Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday: The Tall Order

We read Romans 12:1-2 and 9-16 in church this morning. Let me paraphrase how Paul suggests we act as Christians:

1. Let your body be a living and holy sacrifice for God.

2. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world.

3. Let God transform you into a new person and change the way you think.

4. Don’t pretend to love others; really love them.

5. Hate what is wrong and hold tightly to what is good.

6. Love each other with genuine affection and honor each other.

7. Don’t be lazy, but work hard to serve God with enthusiasm.

8. Be patient in hard times.

9. Keep praying always.

10. Be ready to help God’s people when they are in need.

11. Be eager to practice hospitality.

12. Bless those who persecute you; don’t curse them. And pray that God will bless them.

13. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.

14. Live in harmony with each other.

15. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people.

16. Don’t think you know it all.

Jeesh. I don’t know about you, but that seems like a real tall order to me. I look at that list, and I realize that on a good day, I may achieve half or maybe three-fourths of the suggestions, but then drop the ball on the remaining items. I’m willing to bet that I haven’t nailed all 16 of these suggestions in a single day in my almost-41 years (#16 is particularly problematic for me).

Honestly, I look at the list and I don’t feel inspired or motivated; I feel overwhelmed. Part of me thinks, “What’s the point? It’s impossible. I’m never going to get there, so I might as well give up.”

Pastor Greg linked this reading from Romans with his message on commencement, as Southwood’s high school seniors prepare to graduate from high school and take the next big step in their lives. He noted that we often think of graduation as an ending, when in fact, the word commencement actually means the act of beginning or starting something new.

As I listened to the sermon, I was reminded of this verse from Lamentations (a verse I coincidentally wrote about just last week):

The faithful love of the LORD never ends.
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
The thing is, God knows we can’t achieve all 16 items on Paul’s “How to be a Good Christian” list. He knows we are flawed, that we sin and sin again. He knows that on any given day we may be patient and hard-working, but then turn around and curse a co-worker or complain about our in-laws.

What's simply astounding is that in spite of this, he has mercy on us – and not just once, but every day. His mercy never ceases; he offers a fresh supply every morning.

The point is not that we can’t achieve all 16 items on the list, but that God gives us the opportunity to try again and again. He knows this process of transformation is painfully slow, and so he gives us a fresh start, a new beginning, every morning. We fail on Tuesday, he gives us another shot on Wednesday. He showers us with mercy and grace and gives us a second chance, a third chance, an infinite number of chances to continue the process of transformation.

Paul gives us a tall order indeed. But God’s grace lifts us up high, again and again and again.

Welcome to the "Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday" community! If you are here for the first time, feel free to click here for details and instructions on how to link up.

Or you can simply copy the code for the "Hear It, Use It" button in the sidebar to the right, and paste it into your own post. Remember to including the link to your post down below...not your blog address -- that way visitors can be sure to read the right post.

Typically we write about the lesson we read or the sermon we heard in church on Sunday. That said, I am pretty loosey-goosey -- you can write about a verse or even a hymn that you've been pondering anytime recently. Also, you can come by anytime during the week to link up – it stays open until Friday.

Thanks so much for participating...and don't forget to visit other participants and comment on their thoughts this week if you can. It's wonderful to have you here...


Sometimes He Gets Dramatic

He said, “Let there be light,” and night was separated from day and light from darkness. And there was light, and it was good.

And it still is.

The problem, of course, is that it’s there, it’s there every day, but I don’t always see it. The sun rises and sets, and sometimes I notice, but more often I don’t. Because I’m busy you know, with important stuff – like dishes and laundry, word counts and platforms.

God knows this. He’s patient with me.

And so sometimes, I think, when he really wants to get my attention, he uses my children, who tug at my arm and cajole, “Come on! Come on, Mommy, you have to see this!”

And so I slide from the kitchen barstool and shuffle into flip flops. And I grab my camera from the desk drawer, because Noah knows me and he says, “You’re going to want your camera for this. But hurry because it’s going to be gone soon!”

I think sometimes when God really wants me to see, he does something dramatic, something so awesome that I look and I see and I can’t look away.

Which is exactly what he did this week with a common iris and a shaft of light from the setting sun.

“Isn’t the light just perfect?” whispered Noah, and I nodded yes, snapping.

And I was on my knees in the grass.

In the light.

Counting toward 1,000 gifts and beyond with Ann's community:

339 Light on iris
340 Blackbird tipping his head to sip from a puddle on the roof
341 Lavender-scented lotion
342 Noah singing "River in Judea" in the shower
343 Morning mist on the golf course
344 Sleepy boy in bed
345 Smell of rain on hot pavement
346 Kising his cool cheek
347 Smell of onions cooking on the stove
348 A husband who makes me a tuna sandwich
349 Tiny speckled cardinal eggs cozy in a nest
350 Mama cardinal sitting quiet


The Nest

We've endured a spate of unseasonably cold and dreary weather here in Nebraska. I notice when the weather turns foul my spirits do, too. Clouds roll in, blanketing my soul with heaviness. I feel like I've strapped a set of ankle weights to my chest.

I dig fleece pajama pants from the cedar chest where I'd optimistically folded them two weeks ago. Flip flops sit untouched in the shoe basket as I pull suede clogs from the bottom, pebbles raining onto the kitchen floor like gritty hail. I switch the thermostat to heat and lean against the kitchen sink, hands in warm cascade.

Outside the steamed window, tulip petals drip withered and soggy onto dank ground. The petals lay shriveled like husks, blanketing the dirt in decay while headless stalks sway. A gust blows hard and cold, rattling windows and clanging the chimes wildly in the magnolia tree. I dash outdoors, pluck the incessant racket from the tree and lay the Capri shells silent on patio cement.

"Come look out the window; I want to show you something," Brad cajoles me into the sunroom. I don't care about whatever it is that lies outside the pane, but I wipe my hands on checkered dish towel anyway.

"Look," he says, pointing at the top of the bush outside the glass. "It's a nest. And I saw an egg in it."

I climb onto the arm of the chair and lean forward, fingers splayed on pane. Twigs scrape the outside of the glass like nails on a chalkboard. I crane closer, breath fogging the window dewy.

Later, even though the wind still gusts fierce, I drag the wooden step ladder from the garage and across the front law, prop it close to the fence and climb to the highest rung. I rest one foot atop the picket slats and lean in, parting emerald curtain.

All my weight rests on one leg propped atop a rickety fence. Knee trembling, I lean farther into the thicket.

They've woven oak seed tendrils and bits of birch bark amongst the pine needles and twigs, and within this bowl sit the eggs, two of them speckled pinkish-blue, the colors of babies on the way. Cardinal eggs, we discover later when we spot the female nestled in.

I look for a long time at those two eggs, despite shaking knee, despite wind whistling chill beneath my sweater and straight up my back.

I snap a few pictures, leaning in as close as I dare, and startle a bit when Rowan's friend, squinting up from the bottom of the ladder, asks, "What are you doing?" "Taking pictures of a bird's nest," I explain matter-of-factly, as if it's perfectly ordinary that I'm perched half in a shrub in my fleece pajama pants.

I take one more picture before I let the curtain fold gently around the nest in green embrace. And then I step rung by rung back down to the lawn.

Where have you seen God's handiwork this week? It never ceases to amaze me how much I see in my own backyard! 


Writing toward the Questions

“I don’t do deep thoughts,” I said to him after we’d been dating for just a few weeks. I don’t recollect the exact topic he had raised – it may have been religion or philosophy or quantum physics – but I clearly recall my need to set the record straight. This man with the shock of unruly hair and the quiet, kind demeanor seemed fond of big, open-ended questions. And thus I felt compelled to state my case from the start: topics that pushed at the boundaries or raised questions I couldn’t begin to answer – from God to existentialism to string theory – were taboo.

...I'm writing over at Wendy Paine Miller's place today. When I put out the plea a couple of weeks ago for platform-building support, Wendy emailed me right away to ask if I'd like to guest post at her place. That's just the way she is: gracious, generous, kind and encouraging. Please hop over to read about writing toward the questions...and then stay awhile at Wendy's. You'll fall in love with her words...and with Wendy herself!



Janice had been gone just one month.

As greenhouse plastic flapped in autumn wind, the boys and I filled five white paper bags to the top with tulip bulbs. We carefully studied the placards posted over each bin and selected the perfect shades – plum, yellow, scarlet and orange – aiming for a symphony of raucous color come spring.

We intentionally chose the box furthest back in the right corner of the garden, so with hands in warm suds I could watch the ground sleep under cold snow and dream vibrant amidst February drear.

I'd envisioned an orderly display, concentric circles ringing the box like a proper English garden. But before I could stop him Rowan dumped the contents of all five bags into a single mound. Come to think of it, it was just as well, because Janice had never been distracted by perfectionism anyway.

As the elm dropped leaves golden like painted ladies we sank hope for new life into dry dirt. Trowels clanked stones, clods flew, and we dug hole after hole to settle bulbs snug in earth. Swishing soil over papery skins, we patted the dirt firm and sat back to wait.

All winter I watched from the window over the kitchen sink. The bulbs slept beneath stagnant slush as I scoured fry pans and rinsed stemware and dreamed of glory born from gloom.

It was late March when we bent low, hands on knees, and observed the cracked earth. Noah and I surveyed the box nearly every day in early spring, and when we spotted the fissures slicing jagged beneath the layer of crinkling oak leaves, we knew. The first tender shoots surprised us with their hue, not green at all, but pink like tongues eager for a lick of spring. But as they shot taller from cold ground, unfurling leaves then stems then buds, the tulips burst into a chorus crescendo even I didn't quite expect.

Spring was cold this year in Nebraska. The tulips flourished long in April chill. And as I gazed at the blooming cacophony from the kitchen window, hands deep in warm suds, I was grateful for their lasting gift.

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.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD. [Lamentations 3:22-27; NIV]
Joining Jen and the Soli Sisters on Tuesday:

Ann on Wednesday for Walk with Him:

And Emily at Imperfect Prose on Thursday:

All material and photographs copyrighted Michelle DeRusha 2012

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