Tuesday, November 29, 2011

From the Fullness - Cure for a Backward Heart

I slip out of bed and pad to the kitchen. The hardwood floor is winter-cold. I pull my slippers from the closet and start the coffee.

The boys are still alseep, and it's a good thing. They'll need to be well rested. It's our first day of school after Thanksgiving. Zay is sick and hot with a strong virus. Logan has returned to college, and the house seems hollow without all of our sons.

A backward heart. If there's one recurring stronghold issue that I slosh through, it's my backward heart. Oh, I wish it were a week ago. We were all together. Looking backwardness is the chorus that rings steady through my life. Even when we decorated the tree, over the weekend, my heart wandered back in time. Samuel chose that ornament when he was two. The year he loved dinosaurs. I wish we could have that time back.

Sometimes I sink so far into yesterday that I don't see the blessings of today.

Someone once peered into my soul and asked a tough question. "Why do you do that? Why do you look backwards so?" I felt vulnerable. Unveiled. I stumbled for words. Groped for reason. The best I could come up was with was a stammer. "I love my life so much, I hate to leave parts behind."

So I stand in the kitchen, warm coffee and warm slippers, and blink back tears that I don't even want.  A helpless longing tugs at my soul, and I can't shake it away.

Life has been good. Life has been sweet. Maybe I'm afraid it won't always be.

Could it be a trust issue with God? That He won't care for my heart? Provide for my life? Deep down, I'm afraid. Afraid of missing. Afraid of loss. I want to twist time hard to hold it still. It's an effort that is always lost.

From the fullness of His grace, we all receive one blessing after another. John 1:16

It's my life verse. My rope. My wrap-your-hands-around-it-and-hold-on-tight promise. From the fullness of His grace..a fullness I'll never understand. I depth I'll never see the end of. Something so wide and rich and deep with love I'll never scratch the sweet surface, this side of heaven.

...we all receive one blessing after another. The context is Jesus and the blessings that flow through His blood. The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (vs 17). Salvation. Grace. Acceptance. A paid-for, blood-smattered, glory-grace invitation to the family of God. It really is more than I can fathom. I long to understand.

But as I stand in the kitchen, coffee growing cold, I wonder if I can stretch it wide enough to cover today, without making the promise small. Will it cover my fear, God? My worry that it won't always be so sweet? It it okay to claim over everyday goodness? Over blessing I can see and touch and hold?

Peace floods my soul, warms my spirit, and I think all is well. I think it's okay. Tomorrow will be covered by Jesus, and there is promise in the full, endless depth of grace. Today will hold blessing, too. And the blessings, the love-of-life sweetness that I'm afraid to hold with an open, unclenched hand?

Maybe I don't need to be afraid.

Because I believe that those sweet everyday blessings fit in the fullness as fragments of His grace.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Brother Coming Home

Zay and I are on the porch swing, coats zipped up against the autumn cool.

“Three days,” he says. “Three days until Logan comes home.”  He holds his little hand in the air, pinky finger trapped tight by thumb.
“Five days, Isaiah,” I say I unfolding his cool, red hand. “All five fingers. But that’s not too long. Your brother will be home soon.”

“Awww,” Zay says.  He scrunches his face to a tiny twist. Then slowly, steadily,  a smile spreads warm and bright.

“Then Logan be home. He’ll be with our family.”
The launching of a child has run deep, ripples stretching into the sweet soul of even our youngest boy. But God has been gracious and good. There has been growth, and strength, satisfaction and joy in growing a son to a man. But the anticipation of time together, when the fabric of family is complete and whole?

Those are the best of times.
Isaiah and I sit for awhile, on the swing. We watch the sun wash through the trees that are now almost bare.

It is good. Very, very good.

Children are a blessing, that’s the Lord’s truth. There’s a plan and a purpose beyond the treasure that is a parents’ blessing to hold.

I’m breathless to see what the Lord will do with my sons.
But there is sweetness, joy, in coming together. There is gratitude, thanksgiving, in a brother coming home.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving and Turkey Tradition

It's only Monday, but I don't want to miss the opportunity to wish you a

Spirit-Filled, Blessing-Rich, Wonderful, Wonderful Thanksgiving.

Sweet Friends, I am grateful for You. Thank you for your friendship, love, support, encouragement, and time.

You are a blessing, and I’m ever-so-thankful.
I'd also like to share an Eliasen holiday tradition ~ Bread Bowl Turkey. My helper-boys have grown and changed over the years, but the tradition of the turkey has held strong.

(It’s also been a great help… keeping small hands involved and busy while I’m in the kitchen baking, baking…)
Here we go. Perhaps it will be a blessing for your family, too.

In His Love,

Bread Bowl Turkey

You’ll need:
1 round bread
1 medium sized dinner roll
toothpicks or skewer sticks
1 pkg Knorr dry vegetable soup mix
1C sour cream
1C mayo
1 small box frozen chopped spinach

Various veggies (we use baby carrots, sliced cucumbers, olives, cherry tomatoes, green onions)
Thaw spinach, squeeze until near dry. Mix with dry soup, mayo and sour cream. Set aside.

Hollow the center of round bread (the dip will eventually go here).
Thread skewers with cherry tomatoes, olives, other veggies.

Attach roll to side of round bread with toothpick and create a veggie face (we use olives for eyes, red pepper for gobbler, carrot nose) and attach with toothpicks.
Cover front and sides of bread with cucumber slices, olives (pin in place with toothpicks)

Create small holes on backside of bread. Insert green olives for “feathers”.
Fill in backside with veggie skewers.
Fill hollow of bread with spinach dip.

Surround turkey with left over veggies.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I Love That Guy

We're stretched over the sofa, Zay curled deep in my arms. The house is end-of-day quiet, everyone else tucked in, and we should be.

 But we're drifting.

“Mama,” Zay says, softly, tenderly, “I forgot Mine-O-Mine.”

“Where is he, Zay?”


Even in my slumber-state, I remember seeing Mine-O-Mine, Zay’s red blanket, draped over a chair in the dining room. But the dining room is down the stairs. Through the living room. Across the house.

And I am tired.

“We’ll get him later. Now close your eyes.”

Zay is quiet. For a moment. Then he rolls over and whispers words.“Mama? Can we get him? Now?”

I'm about to tell him “no”. Lonny's been working late. Sport schedules have made me scattered. I'm mama-weary.

 Then he presses palms to my cheeks.

“Please Mama. Mine O'Mine?” he says. “I love that guy.”

I am sold.

Oh, my dear boy. Still small enough to cradle, his spirit gentle and kind. I pull him close and breath the sweetness of his skin. Run my fingers through the angel hair that's soft silk.  Then I kiss his forehead, settle him back to the sofa.

And stand to find the stairs.

The blanket, too.

When he's soft and gentle, tender and small, my heart puddles. There is something precious here. Something simple and sweet that God has allowed me to hold for a short while.

And I don't want to let go.

"Yes, Sweet Boy," I whisper. "I'll find the blanket."

My close-to-sleep child. Treasure of my heart.

I love that guy.
Thank you, Lord, for giving me joy in meeting the small, sweet needs of my sons.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Wish for Autumn Blessings

Hello Dear Friends,

I'm traveling today, returning home from Charleston, South Carolina, after experiencing the sweet blessing of a writers' workshop with Guideposts.

I'll be back with a post on Thursday but don't want to miss the opportunity to send best wishes for autumn blessings ~

May your day be deeply rich, abundantly sweet, and filled with God's grace.

In Him,

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lion Den Living

The warm afternoon was impossible to resist. The boys and I ate lunch inside. But after-lunch? Devotions outside. I grabbed our Bible and we bolted for a sunny spot in the backyard.

The boys clustered, pretzel-legged, on a cushion of gold leaves. I pressed in beside them.

“We’re reading one of your favorites today, guys,” I said. “Daniel and the lions’ den.”

“Yes,” Gabe said, long and heavy on the “s”.
The boys listened while I read the story . They love the part about the angels closing the mouths of the lions.

When I finished, my guys were quiet for a moment. Then Gabe ran his small hands through the still-soft leaves. He picked one up and traced the center vein with his finger. “Those lions were hungry,” he said.
“And Daniel was safe,” Sam said.

True. Daniel was in the hands of mighty God, the safest place to be. But his choice to kneel and pray to the One True God? It doesn’t seem safe. He knew that it meant punishment. He knew that his devotion to the Lord could be costly. But he didn’t waver. He didn’t hide. His chest didn’t hold a fear-driven heart.
Daniel didn’t deny his relationship with the Living God when the stakes were high.

He bowed in prayer and devotion.
Bold faith.

Lion den living.
I want that kind boldness for my sons. In a world turning gray, I want them to hold absolutes. In a world that dangles riches that won’t last or promises that won’t keep, I want them to stand firm on rock-solid truth.

Lord, may my sons love You with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength. May they never bow to another. No matter what the potential cost.
God was faithful when Daniel was thrown into the den. The hungry lions stayed hungry and Daniel was delivered.

The same mighty God holds the lives of my sons.
And as I sat with my boys, safe and warm in the glow of afternoon sun, I prayed that God would give them faith.

Faith enough for Lion Den Living.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Simple Sweetness - Pear Jam

Meagan and I sat at the table. Our kids played in a wild tangle around us. A few with plastic soldiers. A few with paper and crayons.

Meagan is a couple of decades my junior. It doesn’t matter. It’s a friendship that isn’t restrained by years.

We chatted about our husbands and kids and activities and lives.

After awhile, Meagan glanced to the porch.

“Hey, what are you going to do with the box of pears?” she asked.

“Pear jam. But it’ll take a million years. I haven’t had much time.”

“Why don’t we peel them now? Then they’ll be ready to go when you get an hour or two.”

“Really?” I asked.

My friend was already up, routed for the pears. “Really.”

Meagan and I plunked the box on the floor between us. We each pulled a paring knife from the block on the kitchen counter. The kids shifted. Changed activities. But we just sat. Shared. Peeled and peeled until my favorite big, green bowl heaped full.

Later that evening, after the kids were asleep, I stood and stirred a bubbling, copper-bottom stockpot of pears. An hour later, jam jars were filled. I arranged them in three rows. Three warm, gleaming rows of amber-colored jam.

I couldn’t wait to share the sweetness.

But the next morning, when the boys spooned the thick jam over fresh, warm bread, I thought of something even sweeter. I thought of the simple, unadorned joy of sitting with another woman, working together, sharing.

Hearts go deep when hands are helping.

There was something precious, still, and sweet in those hours. The coming-togetherness of task and friendship. Something, I’m sure, my grandmothers knew something about, as they raised their families. But it’s a blessing I’m often too busy to enjoy.

Thank you, God, for the simplicity of this task. Thank you for this heart-connection with another woman.

It was a tender goodness.

An unexpected pleasure I'll long want to preserve.