Monday, December 30, 2013

Why We Need Christmas

Hello Friends,

Today I'd like to share my post from last Friday's Sozowomen. Thanks for joining me.

 I'm sending warm wishes for best blessings in 2014..may peace and love and joy be yours!


Monday, December 23, 2013

Receiving Gifts

Sam is in the schoolroom. He's found a quiet place. He's nestled in the beanbag chair not far from the fire. His head is tilted down. I can see, from the curve of his shoulders, from the way that he's still, that he's lost in something.

I stand in the doorway and watch. "What are you working on?" I ask after a moment.

Samuel looks up and turns toward me. His cheeks are flushed from the warmth. A smile moves slowly over his face.

"I'm sketching," he says. "Want to see?"

I sit down on the floor beside him. He's sketching a tiger. He's been learning about shading, and I can see that he's coming along well. But it's not the tiger that pulls my attention.

 It's the sketchbook.

Sam's birthday was yesterday. Logan knows how Samuel loves to draw, and he bought him a journal for sketching. It has an embossed cover and a rugged cord that slips around the outside. The pages are heavy and thick.  It's a beautiful book - in a cool, masculine sort of way. But there aren't a lot of pages. And it surprises me that Samuel would use it already. That he'd open to the first blank page and jump right in.

"It's a wonderful tiger," I say.

"Thanks," he says. "Do you think the eyes are okay?" He doesn't give me time to answer. "I love this gift. I really like this book."

"I do, too," I say. And I mean it. If the journal had been given to me, I would've kept it clean. I would've placed it on my desk. Or maybe I would have tucked it away in my drawer. I would have saved it for a special occasion. A special place. A glint in time that was more extraordinary than an ordinary, sit-by-the-fire day.

Or maybe I wouldn't have used it at all.

Samuel erases the eyes. Brushes the page clean. He leaves the tiger face empty and goes about working on the paws.

"I'm so glad Logan gave this to me," Sam says. "He always knows just what I'd enjoy."

I stretch my legs long and settle my back against the beanbag chair. After a moment, I shut my eyes. I can hear Sam's pencil whispering over the page. I think about Sam and his book.

Sam is truly enjoying this gift. It was given for that purpose. I know he'll use it cover to cover.

I think again about how I would've tucked it away. Like buried treasure.

Sam is different. He's letting himself be free. He's going to fill every page. Without reserve.

This challenges me. I begin to think about gifts...particularly gifts that God may want me to have. Like the gift of peace. I can accept it. Or I can let it remain untouched and live in a world of what ifs.The gift of  trust. I can unwrap it and let it flow into my life. Or I can fret and fear. I think about joy. I can take this gift, the deep joy that only Jesus can bring, and live it. I can let it wash over troubles and pain. Or I can let it be snuffed and squelched by life in a fallen world.

I want to accept the gifts that the Lord offers. I want to receive them with grace and joy. I want to live and breathe these good gifts to the fullest. I want to grasp every sweetness and the freedom it brings.

I sit and reflect and remember a quote by Erma Bombeck: "When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me.'"

I can hope the same of God's grace gifts in my life. No shove-in-a-drawer, buried treasure living. I want to use His gifts. Cover to cover.

Like Sam fills his journal.

A moment goes by and then Sam wraps his warm hand around my wrist. "Mom," he says. "You awake? Hey, look, I've finished the eyes."

He hands me his book. The tiger is striking. Beautiful.

Almost as lovely as what I've learned from my son.


Note: I'll be breaking for Christmas and will return with a new post next Monday, December 30. May the blessings of the season be yours. Love, Shawnelle

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sweet Sam Turns Twelve - A Christmas I'll Never Forget

"I can't believe it, Mom," Sam says. "I'm going to be twelve."

I just smile. I can't believe it either. We're at the pool, our second home now, and Sam is waiting for his club to practice. He's leaning forward. Turned to the side. He's bare chested, arms twining with new swim muscles. His goggles are strapped over his forehead making his still-blond hair (I'm wondering when it will twinge green)  stand up in wild tufts.

My son. Sweet Sam. His name means God has heard. And he's my reminder of grace.

We'd stood outside in the wee hours on the morning he was born. Lonny, Logan, Grant and me. I was scheduled for a C-section, and when we'd gone to the van, sleepy-eyed but ready, we were in awe of the sky. Pitch dark but sprinkled with stars. It was cold. Crisp. We joined mittened hands right in the front yard and prayed for our babe, whispering thanksgiving and praise into the quiet night.

But my heart hadn't always been like that. Just before Sam was conceived, it was shaded angry and dark.

Lonny and I had tried for several years to have a child. Logan was ten. Grant was six. The years were marked with pleading and prayer. Little boys in PJ's, kneeling by their bed, asking for a brother. Our friends gathering around us to pray. Then, when we'd almost lost hope, we became pregnant. But we miscarried the baby on a Indian summer day when the sun pressed gold through the trees and my body pushed away what my heart held dear. At the time, many of my friends were pregnant. I went to shower after shower. Delivered meal after meal. At Christmas, I'd sat in a pew during our church pageant and broke inside while a friend, dressed as Mary, walked down the aisle carrying her babe.

I wanted to have a thankful, beautiful heart. I wanted to be that woman. But I wasn't. My heart was jagged and rough and hard.

One day I cried out loud to God. I wanted to be honest like David. I let my feelings run free. I'd promised I'd raise my family to know Him. Why wouldn't he just give? Couldn't He see the tears? I yelled until my throat burned. I didn't know that tucked under my heart was the babe I'd longed for.

God, in His goodness, had met my anger
 with love.

Sweet grace.

It was nothing I deserved. He didn't wait for me to be cleaned up. All better. Solid and clean and worthy. He met me in my dark place.  He brought an abundance of blessing and grace and compassion to a place that had gone hard and dusty and dry. And my son was born just before Christmas. Our hospital room was filled with soft music. Someone brought a tiny tree. Others brought poinsettias and cookies and came to share our joy. And when I moved my fingers over his tiny heartbeat, when I held him close and breathed this fresh, new life, I knew I holding goodness and grace.

Sam and I chat for a few moments, then it's time for him to go. He walks to the edge of the pool, all long-legged and pre-teen lanky.  He stands at the edge and dives in. Clean and easy. He glides and breaks the water. Pushes up. Sees me watching and smiles. It's a wide, goggled grin.

And my heart hurts hard for my grace gift.

The year God's goodness washed over my sin. When the light of His love reached my dark place.

I wave to my boy and marvel.

Isn't that just like Christmas?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Clay Baby Christmas - From Chicken Soup for the Soul: It's Christmas

Hi Friends,

Today I'd like to share a story from the new release Chicken Soup for the Soul: It's Christmas. The link below is for the Chicken Soup for the Soul website.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: It's Christmas

I'm sending best wishes for a warm and peaceful December day. May simple blessings be yours.

With love and hugs,


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Quiet Place to Rest

A couple of years ago, I walked into the kitchen and saw, through the leaded glass of the heavy door, my best friend. She was on my porch. Sitting on our old swing. She was still bundled in her winter coat and her eyes were closed.

She was quiet. Still.

I flung the door open. Our porch is enclosed, but there was enough winter bite to make it cold. "What are you doing?" I asked. "Come on in!"

My friend looked up. She tried to smile, but the dimpled sweetness was lost. Her heart was heavy. I could see it without a word.

"I can't," she finally said. "My boys are sick with the flu. Again. I think I may be coming down with it, too. There are a million things to do. I feel ragged. And when I parked the van just now - look what happened to this." She held the shifter in her mittened hands.Her eyes filled with tears. Mine did, too.

I sat on the swing next to her.

"I don't want to infect your household," she finally said.  "I just needed a quiet place to rest."

She and I talked for a few minutes. It wasn't long before the small faces of my household were pressed against the kitchen-side of the glass. My friend encouraged me to go in. I eventually did. I closed the door behind me and left her on the porch.It felt a little odd. But I wanted to give my friend what she'd asked for. A quiet place to rest.

I think of my friend as I walk through that same kitchen today. There are dishes piled high. A to-do list scrawled on a tablet on the counter. There are home school lessons and errands. Swim practice and basketball. Lonny's working shifts again, a new challenge for us, then there's the wild and crazy December rush.

I'm feeling a little tired. Like my friend, I need a place to rest. I know there's only one place I can go to get the deep, settling rest I long for. A rest of the spirit. A comfort of the soul. Time with the Lord in His Word. I haven't been there enough lately, but I feel the pull, the need, the frayed pieces of my heart longing to be bound and mended tight.

Lord, thank you for the comfort of Your Word. Thank you for speaking life to a tired heart. Thank you for filling me with Your promises, Your wisdom, Your direction.

Help me to make spending time with You a priority.

Help me to find You - and in the love and grace and beauty of that relationship - a quiet place to rest.


He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1 NIV

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Faith to Face Her Fear (GUIDEPOSTS)

Morning Friends,

Today I'd like to share my story from the December issue of Guideposts. Fear moved far by the
faithfulness of God. What a precious thing!

Have a wonderful winter day. May you be warmed by His grace and love.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Marriage Rediscovered - The Treasure of Time

Hello Friends,

I had the blessing of posting yesterday at SozoWomen (forWedded Wednesday). Thanks for joining me there.

Have a wonderful weekend. May it be filled with God's tender grace.



Monday, December 2, 2013

Finding New Blessings

When Lonny tells me he has to work the weekend after Thanksgiving my mind rushes fast. These sweet days hold tradition in our home. We bundle up on Friday and plod over gentle hills in pursuit of a tree. We tether it to our Suburban and sing Christmas songs on the way home. And Saturday is decorating day. We listen to Bing Crosby and Judy Garland. We make a stock pot of soup. We carry totes from the attic that hold twenty years of memories from Christmas past.

But how can we do this if Lonny isn't here?

He and I scan the fam cal and try to shimmy tradition into the jam-packed squares. Swim meets. Basketball. Another long-haul project for Lonny at work. There isn't a place to make it fit. We decide to wing it. Maybe something on the calendar will give.

But when we wake the next morning, after Lonny has left for work, Logan has a novel idea."I think," he says, "that we need to cut the tree today. We'll miss Dad but it's going to be the perfect day."

I look at my son. I can't deny that the sun is already pressing through the living room window.

"Cut the tree without Dad?" I ask.

He nods. "It's almost December. And it's going to be impossible to find another time."

So we gather the brothers. We gather mittens and hats. And I try to gather enthusiasm. To me it seems sad. I know that in the course of life this is just a gentle ripple. A minor disappointment. A tiny thing. I'm ashamed that it bothers me so much. Maybe because the years flow fast? Or there's no guarantee there won't be hard change? I don't know. But we do these things together. Without Lonny it doesn't seem right.

In a short time we're at the tree lot. We take a saw and the smaller boys run like wild over the hills. The trees are beautiful and the sun is on our shoulders.

"This one?" Gabriel shouts as he beams at a Fraser fir.

"No, that one over there. It's small and shaped like a tear," Sam says.

We trudge around for a bit, the five boys and me. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has a fave. Then we see the tree. It's tall and beautiful and we all agree fast. But for good measure we take a
vote. All six approve. I smile and nod. But I miss Lonny's vote, too.

"Now who's going to help cut?" Logan asks.

The three younger boys are on their bellies in no time flat. Grant agrees to hold the top.

And I step back and watch my sons. Logan claiming leadership. Grant lending support. Three younger guys bursting with joy. Logan crawls under the tree with saw. He offers it to Zay then his own big hands curl over the small ones. Back and forth. Back and forth. Logan takes time with  each younger brother. When the tree comes free Grant catches the weight of it. Everyone cheers. It's a job well done.

The guys all want to help tote the tree back to the barn. They're victorious as we move over the hills again. I stay back a bit, wanting this picture, this day, to press into my heart. Zay's winter hat is an owl and as he skips the ear tufts bob up and down. Gabe and Sam, after a short while, decide they'd rather bolt around than carry the tree. And Logan and Grant haul this beauty, the biggest we've ever had, while the brothers run around them.

I still miss Lonny. But I know the rest of the weekend will be okay.

Tradition is treasure, but sometimes change brings beautiful things.

This day is precious, after all.

Lord, thank you for tradition. But thank you for new blessings, too. Open my eyes so that I may see...Amen.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Quiet Thank You...

Before the weekend goes wild, before the holiday busy, I want to take a quiet moment to thank you, dear friends, for sharing hearts with me here.

I'm blessed by
 your friendship,
 your kindness,
 your prayers,
 and the sweet honor of your time.

Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you for sharing life with me. I'm ever-so grateful.



Oh give thanks to the Lord for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 118:1 ESV

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Practice in Perseverance

Hey Friends,

I love Wedded Wednesdays at Sozowomen. Here's my post from yesterday.

Have a sweet weekend - filled with God's grace.



Monday, November 11, 2013


The youngest boys and I are in the yard raking. The ground is covered in deep gold. There's a lot to do. Our beautiful maple now is down to bare branches reaching into the November sky.

"I'm tired," Zay says. "Can we take a break and jump?"

We've gathered quite a pile. It's appealing. It calls to the boys. I nod and they drop their rakes and charge like wild. They laugh. They throw leaves and tumble around. Then they bolt from what's left of the pile so they can charge again.

This time Flash follows.

He jumps on in with the kids. They're surprised. We've never had a dog behave like this. The boys become still and Flash flops to his back. His legs are in the air and he presses himself deeper. Gabe decides it would be fun to bury the dog. He scoops armfuls and tosses leaves in the air. Flash flips over and behaves like he's going to pounce. He pokes the boys with his nose. It's an invitation to play. It doesn't take long for the leaf pile to hold a tumble of arms and legs. Paws and elbows and smiles and the long, thin face of a greyhound.

They roll. They wrestle. They they call for me to join in.

I hesitate. It looks untamed. And messy. But I can't resist. And before long, I'm in the mix, laughing like crazy, too.

It feels good to laugh this hard. The dog takes off
from the pile, makes two long laps around the yard, and bounds back in. The boys howl. It's reckless and free and we laugh in the autumn leaves until our sides are sore.

I can't remember when I've laughed like this.  There's raking to do and a million things more. There are things hidden in my heart that hold worry and concern. But for now, all that is quiet. There's only the beauty of the day and God's overwhelming grace and the love in this moment and the sweet, easy joy that's draped over our home.

We fall back in the leaves, exhausted, but giggling still. I'm so grateful for the simplicity of what has happened here.

                                              And our laughter feels like praise.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! Psalm 100:4 ESV

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Deeper Kind of Love

Hello Friends,

I posted yesterday at Sozowomen. Here's the link. Thanks for meeting me there!

Have a sweet weekend. May it be filled with wonder and grace.




Writing News:

I'm blessed and thankful to have stories in the following new releases: Chicken Soup for the Soul: It's Christmas  (two stories), Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive for Kids (one story) , and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just Us Girls (three stories).

I'll have a book giveaway later in the month.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Running Free - A Walk in the Woods

We're hiking through the woods. It's November and the air holds a chill. But the sun is high and the colors are warm. There are patches of light on the ground. The trees have gone gold. It's the kind of day that calls to one's heart.

Most of us walk with leisure. Several boys, Lonny and me, and Sis on her leash. But Gabriel has Flash, and they can't move slow. The dirt trail winds before them in an inviting way. There is territory to be explored. Lungs to be filled with fresh air. There's an adventure wrapped in autumn glory. They run ahead of us. A boy and his dog. They bound ahead until they are breathless. They're matched pretty well. Both spirited. Both curious. Both wanting to grab life for all it's worth.

I mosey behind with the others and watch them go. Every so often I call out. They're too far ahead. I need to see their backs. I need to be within earshot of Gabe's voice. Then I see them make a turn, looping back, and they're on a parallel path coming our way. I can't stop watching them. I'm drawn to the life in their steps.

I understand, as I see them move together, that I'm drawn because this is the way I want to live.

I want to run forward to receive blessing. I want to move with reckless freedom into the goodness and grace of God's love. I want to run with joy and confidence because I know He is with me, and this is quite simply a beautiful thing.

I shout out for Gabe and Flash to stop. To wait. The rest of us catch up, Sis moving slowly, the family chatting, filling the quiet places with voices. When we meet Flash and Gabe, they're resting for a moment. Gabe is sitting on the ground. Flash is on the ground, too, his face near his boy's bent knees. It only takes a breath for them to spring up and they're moving again.

And I'm happy to see them take off.

Because in watching them run in beauty and grace, something in me has come free.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Small Voices

We did the pumpkin thing. Two hours and five pumpkins and a bunch of boys and a wooden block of knives that, when I sent a picture, made my friend cringe.

The boys had stripped their T-shirts and were up to their elbows in orange. We now had jack-o-lanterns. Lop-sided smiles and triangle eyes and a mustache that spread across Mr. Pumpkin in a curling grin.

We also had a mess. A seeds-on-the-floor, mountains of pulp, stringy goodness everywhere kind of deal. Lonny and I were trying to get control of the kitchen again. Every ladle had been used for scooping. Markers, caps off, were covered with slime. It was easier to send the boys to the tubs, rather than have them help...

 We were working in the kitchen when we heard a voice in the dining room. We peered around the corner. Zay sat at the table. He'd gotten himself a slice of banana bread from under the glass dome on the buffet. He had a paper plate. He somehow had gotten himself a mug of milk, too.

 Right in the center of the mess.

"Sit down with me, Dad," he said. Zay smiled and nodded toward a chair. "Talk with me, Dad," he said. "Sit down and talk?"

Lonny scanned the wreckage. He glanced at the grandfather clock. He looked at the sink that bulged with dishes and the counters that would need to be scraped to come clean. Then his gaze settled on his son.

And he smiled.

"Go," I said. "Sit. Listen."

Lonny set his towel on the counter. He took a place at the table with his boy.

The clean-up work, the getting straight to bed, the stack of things to do. It didn't seem to matter that much.

Know me.
Share my heart.

Sometimes from the softest voices come the strongest things.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Wife I Don't Want To Be

I'm standing in my friend's kitchen when I start to drip. Well, not me, really. My handbag. Fat drops of water fall from my bag and splatter on the ground.


I paw through the deep belly of my purse. My checkbook is wet. My lipsticks swim in a puddle. My water bottle is empty and the cap bobs in the tide. I fish around for my wet keys and understand that my personal items will spend the afternoon soaking in the sun.

I look to the floor.

"Let me dry this," I say.  And as I swipe the drops from my friend's hardwood, a verse about a drippy wife comes to mind. And as that verse settles on my heart, I remember the text I'd sent Lonny an hour before.

There's a mouse in the schoolroom. Washing machine croaking.. Engine light on red van. And your children are driving me wild.

Lonny is out of town again. He's busy. I'm busy. Our conversations have been limited. And when I think about it, when I really think, most of my words have sounded the same.

I fall into this pattern sometimes. Lonny, my closest friend, my most safe place, the other half of my heart, often gets the deep complaints. I don't want to pretend with him, or withhold the depths of my life, but there are times when my words, my tone, may leave a little to be desired.

Catch the mouse.
Save the washer.
Fix the van.
Rescue me from the children.

Drip, drip, drip, drip.
Complain. Complain. Fuss. Fuss.

Maybe holding back on the negative stuff, swapping for a few encouraging words, would be a good thing. Maybe uplifting words, rather than a stockpile of frustration, would be pleasing to hear.

I place the towel on the counter. The water is removed from the floor. I'm excited to remove the drips of frustration from my future conversations with Lonny, too.

Sounds good.

Now for the souped-out status of my purse...

A quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping on a rainy day. Proverbs 27:15 NLT

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Lettuce in the Cupboard

I find the lettuce in the cupboard. Shimmied between multi grain crackers and a crumpled bag of Lay's.

It's the pre-washed kind. Lettuce in a bag. Only now it's warm and wilty. It's been there since yesterday.

I'm noticing such things more and more lately. I'm losing things. I'm forgetting things. I think it's the daily rush. There's always a list. There's always a stack. There's always a Top One Hundred Things To Do.

I pull the lettuce from the cupboard and toss it in the trash. Suddenly I'm laughing. I'm remembering last week when my sweet mama came to the boys' soccer game wafting lemons. The furniture polish had been in the bathroom. She styled her hair, reached for hairspray,  and misted her head with Pledge.

Not much hope for a gal like me. But I'm smiling just the same.

Maybe it's too much input. Too many things churning in my head. Maybe I'm distracted or my mind is fogging with forty-something age. I'm not sure. But somewhere between the lettuce in the cupboard and the next hundred things I'll do, there's a prayer:

Lord, help me to take my time with the important things. Time in Your Word. Time with my husband. Time with my boys.

Lord, help me put the important things in the right places. My energy. My talents. My service. My hours.

Lord, let me deal with myself with grace when my efforts fall short.

And Lord, keep me smiling, as laughter is a gift.

Just then a bevy of boys bursts around the corner. "Mom, what's for dinner?" echoes through the halls.

I'm not sure. It won't be salad.

The lettuce went warm in the cupboard.

But everything will be just fine.

Monday, October 21, 2013

What I Found on Saturday

Logan and I took a day trip on Saturday. We filled the gas tank and headed north. We found that the river valley was decorated for fall.

We found a roadside flea market, and I found a green rabbit cookie jar with a smile that made me smile.

We found a restaurant with crispy crust pizza and an antique store in a former opera house. Logan found an old window pane, and I found a kitchen stool with a funky retro print.

I found a fishbowl with an unusual shape, and then we found a coffee shop and eggnog lattes. And later in the day we found our way home.

We found many things on Saturday, but the most important treasure, the thing that moved my heart, was the understanding that no matter how much our children grow, even when we blink and a babe becomes a boy and then a young man, time shared, one on one, is a gift.

Time to laugh. Time to smile. Time to share. Time to be quiet. Time to appreciate the grace and goodness in the relationship that we have.

What a blessing I found on Saturday!

It's one I plan to keep.

Lord, thank you for time, carved and created, with my growing sons. Amen.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dogs, Boys, and Bible Truth

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Psalm 127:3

Lonny and I took the boys on an outing last weekend. Logan stayed home to study. When we returned, he was still at the dining room table, books piled high. Flash, our greyhound boy, was sleeping at his feet.

"Oh," I said. "Sweet. Flash kept you company. What a peaceful thing."

"Not quite," Logan said. He looked up from his books. "First I found him in the school room chewing on the easel. Then he gnawed the corner off a book."

I bit my lip. Flash can be a handful.

"He went upstairs and nabbed Gabe's sock monkey. Then he went back to the school room to attack the flannel board."

"No," I said. "Tell me he didn't eat the letters." We use our flannel board for phonics. It's a staple in our school day.

"I saved them," he said. "But the vowels were stuck to his feet. You should know I chased him around the house to retrieve lowercase a."

"Thanks," I said.

Hard to believe, this quiet curl of a dog, face resting on my son's feet, can cause such a stir. He's quite different from our first greyhound, Sis. She's gentle. Still. Stretches in the sun like a cat. Her favorite place is in the hall closet. She'd never gnaw a book or swipe a vowel.

These dogs are crazy different.

But we love them just the same.

It's like our sons, really. No two are alike. There are similarities that stretch beyond the physical, but mostly they are as varied as can be. One is most at ease in a quiet spot with a book in hand. One thrives on adventure. One has a natural sense of humor that can brighten any day. Some are athletic. Some enjoy music.Some are quiet in a crowd. Some enjoy the spotlight. Some are easy. Reserved. A couple of others are spirited, and like Flash, keep things lively by stirring the pot.

They are individuals. Crafted differently from the inside out. Not one comes close to being a carbon copy of the other. But these very different boys, with their unique gifts and challenges and shortcomings and abilities, are alike in the most kind of ways...

each is a gift, a treasure, a heritage, a reward.

I know it in  my mother-heart,

and the Bible tells me so.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Blog Break Today

Dear Friends,

I hope that you're enjoying a beautiful fall day.

I'm going to take a blog break, but I'll be back on Thursday.

See you then!


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Crazy Normal

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

Crazy is our new normal. With two teenage boys and three little boys, our family is in perpetual motion - to the baseball diamond, track field, piano lessons, and Bible club. Even though we've limited each boy's activities and try our best to defend our family time, it seems that we're in a constant state of flight.

"Embrace it. Roll with it," my husband, Lonny says. "It's going to be like this for a while."

He's right. It's likely that life will continue to careen full-throttle forward before it slows down. But I remembered the still, quiet days that our family used to enjoy. I missed our long walks through the park when we clutched the boys' little hands and took time to feel the sun on our shoulders. I longed for the lazy Saturday afternoons under the oak in our backyard, when towhead boys built forts of sticks and castles of sand. I wanted to slip back a few years, when busyness was the exception and not the rule.

One night, after a particularly full day and an evening of Little League games, our family gathered on the porch for ice cream. Two parents, two teens, and three small boys piled on one old swing and a couple of rocking chairs.

We were together, in one place, for a small slice of time.

The moon was full. The Mississippi River, flowing past our home, was smooth as glass. The creak of the swing was the only sound. Lonny's arm draped across my shoulders in the comfortable way it had for twenty years. I wrapped my own arms around the son who sat on my lap and breathed deeply to inhale his little-boy scent - dirt and sweat and a hint of Tide.

My heart was still and content.

I realized that while crazy is our new normal, God is faithful to provide blessings along the way. They may look different from before, but they are still there - even if they're in the form of a single moment on the porch, when Rocky Road runs in sweet rivers down small, summer-brown arms, and the night drapes our porch and frames our family.

Maybe I just needed the eyes to see.

Lord, you are faithful to provide everything that my family needs. In a crazy, busy time of life, help me to appreciate the quiet times and see your blessings. Amen.

As printed in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Mothers

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tasty Tuesday at Sozowomen

Dear Friends,

Happy October!

I'd like to share last Tuesday's post at Sozowomen - a recipe for pumpkin pie pound cake. It's a family

Thanks for joining me. I'll look forward to posting Monday about little something I learned this afternoon while teaching my boys (funny how that works, huh?).

Have a blessed weekend!


Monday, September 30, 2013

Tomato Soup from Heaven

It's autumn. Time to harvest. Makes me remember Papo, my grandfather, and sweet afternoons in his kitchen.

                                                    TOMATO SOUP FROM HEAVEN

                    Only the pure in heart can make a good soup. Ludwig van Beethoven 

I heard the soft creak of our front door. From my upstairs bedroom, the sound was distant but distinct. I’d been in bed for over a month with herniated disks in my back, and I was lonely. I knew a visitor when I heard one.

“Baby Girl?” My grandfather’s voice traveled up the stairwell. Same kind tone, same name he’d called me all my life, though I was now well past a girlish state. I was thirty-something and pregnant with my third son.

“Papo, come on up,” I called. I tried to roll to my side, but even that was painful and difficult.

It seemed small ages before Papo ducked his head through the door frame. He pulled his hat from his head and held it in his worn hands. “How are you today, darlin?”

“Same, same, same, Papo. Ready to do something different,” I said.

“Are you hungry?” he asked.

“What did you bring?” I couldn’t help but smile. And I’d bet my beagle he’d brought his homemade tomato soup. I could just imagine it, in blue-handled Kemp’s ice cream bucket, with the lid pressed on for secure travel. It was about thirty miles from my grandparents’ door to my bedside.

“Why, I’ll be,” he said. “What makes you ask that?” Papo’s grin now matched my own.

“Is there soup in the kitchen?” I asked.

“I’ll bring you some up,” Papo said. He walked into the bedroom and bent, slowly, to kiss the top of my head. Then he disappeared. Out the door. Down the stairs. Into the kitchen to ladle some soup.

Papo’s tomato soup had been a comfort food stitch in the fabric of my life. He was a gardener long before my grandmother’s health failed and he became the cook. The tomatoes for his soup came plump and fresh from dark Mississippi River Valley soil. The weather could be too dry, too wet. The blight would hit and sturdy tomato plants would spot and spoil, yet somehow Papo’s plants would yield juicy tomatoes. He’d peel, cut, and cook the tomatoes and seal them in clear, shiny Mason jars. When we were sick or sad or just plain hungry, the jars would be extracted, one by one, from the shelf in his basement. Then he’d pour them into his heavy, old stock pot. He’d add creamy cold milk, garlic, seasonings, a spot of butter and pinches of parsley and soda. The result would be thick and delicious, fresh and smooth, a slight red that filled the bowls and tummies with something warm and wonderful.

Papo usually served his soup with crisp, salty crackers, and he didn’t skimp. He didn’t let me down, that afternoon, either. A few minutes later, Papo once again climbed the stairs, this time even more slowly than the first. I could see a steaming bowl balanced on a tray, crackers piled high on the side. I caught the garlicky aroma before he hit the bedroom, and my mouth watered.

“Papo,” I said. “It was so kind of you to bring me this soup. It smells amazing.” I tried to prop myself up enough to support the tray on my lap. The sharp shoots of pain were softened by Papo’s response.

“Oh, darlin. I wish I could do more,” he said. His hands shook slightly as he placed the tray over my legs.

I reached out to embrace my grandfather. He once again leaned in, careful to not upset my lunch. “Can you stay?” I asked.

“Your grandmother’s in the car,” he said. “She just can’t make it up the stairs today. But she said she loves you. And we’ll be back, soon.”

I could only imagine what he must’ve gone through, transporting my poor, sweet grandmother to the car. Her legs had just about given out and traveling was a real sacrifice.

“I love you,” I said.

“I love you, too, Baby Girl,” Papo said. Then he squeezed my hands and once again left the way he came. I sat alone, on my bed, and sipped slow spoonfuls of soup. When the bottom of the bowl peeked through, I tipped it forward to scoop every last drop. Funny as it sounds, the flavor was more than tomatoes and garlic and cream. To me, hurting and alone, the soup tasted like love.

A few months later, after a healthy delivery and a healed back, Papo called me to his kitchen. He wanted to teach me to make the soup. He’d instruct and I’d work, under his watchful eye. Then I’d go home and try to make it for my family. The soup would scorch. The soda would turn the kettle to a pink, frothy mess. I’d get too much garlic and we’d pant for water like thirsty dogs. I just couldn’t get it. But my Papo was a patient man, and we kept trying, until one day I hit it right. I didn’t understand it at the time, but those moments stooped over the stock pot were in preparation.

A few years later, I no longer have the blessing of learning in Papo’s kitchen.  And“How ‘bout some soup, Baby Girl?” no longer travels up the stairwell, through the kitchen, from Papo’s heart to mine. But those words echo in my memory, and they bring precious peace. When one of my five boys is hurting, sad, or just needs some extra loving, I pull the copper-bottom stock pot from the pantry shelf. I reach for tomatoes that I learned to “put up” for all seasons. I stir the ingredients together and get the recipe just right. And I remember my grandfather, dear sweet Papo, full of encouragement and love.
Then I sit at the table with my son and enjoy tomato soup from heaven.

Papo's Tomato Soup:

2 T butter
2 T flour
4 c milk
1 qt home canned tomatoes  (used crushed if using canned tomatoes from the store)
1/4 tsp baking soda
garlic powder, salt, pepper

Warm milk, in pan, over low/med heat. Add butter, stirring constantly. Sprinkle in flour.

Add baking soda to tomatoes.

While continuing to stir, add tomatoes to milk mixture (will froth a bit).

Season to taste with garlic powder, salt, pepper. Stir until creamy.

*Very important to use low/med heat. Don't boil...soup will curdle

Story and recipe as printed in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Binding the Broken

Isaiah is my fixer. He loves to repair what has fallen apart. He wants to grow up to be like Logan, fixer of the toys. Logan grew up to be like my dad. Fixer of most anything.

I guess it's in Isaiah's blood.

Today the dishwasher produces a couple of casualties: a cutting board, split in half, that has seen too many cycles, and a two-piece wooden spoon.

"I'm sorry, Mom," Isaiah says when he sees the pile of brokenness. Yesterday's stuff headed for the trash.

"No worries, Zay," I say.

"I'll fix it, Mom. Things will be good as new!"

I smile as he darts around the corner. I know where he's heading. The school room closet. He'll grab small, wooden chair and teeter on the seat. He'll reach for the duct tape. Then he'll pull the
lion-face scissors from the cup on his desk.

A few minutes later he returns with the treasures. The cutting board is strapped back together with wide strands of silver tape. The spoon is together again, too, the wide bowl of it covered in tape.

"Of course," he says. "You'll have to hand wash."

This boy makes me smile. With tenderness and love he worked to make things whole.

Makes me think of the Lord.

It's been a not-so-lovely week around here. Lonny and I are waist deep in an issue with one of our sons. It's painful. It's tough. We're unsure of what to do and it feels like our hearts are beating on the outside - unprotected and uncovered. Feels like the broken edges of that cutting board - rough, splintered, and raw.

My comfort is in the faithful kindness of the Lord. He is faithful to bind up our wounds. To pull the edges together. To offer protection. My peace is in knowing that the Lord is with us and He'll hold us and care for us. He'll bind the parts that are broken.

The Lord heals the brokenhearted and He binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

Isaiah still stands in front of me. Smiling. Giving. His love for me shows powerful in what he has restored.

Father, place us together today, too, in Your perfect love.

My son stretches his arms forward and offers what he's repaired.

I reach to take it.

And my heart reaches for the Lord.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Last Day of Summer

The house admits that we've been busy. Floors are sprinkled with crumbs. Windows hold smudges. The wash is knee high again. Soccer season started for the little guys and Sam started swim team. Lonny and I spend the evenings shuttling boys to the field, pool, and back again.

Today is Saturday. And our home needs our help.

The little guys empty trash bins. Lonny's scrubbing the walls of our pool (time to close). The big guys have jobs and I begin to think about that cross-over chore - swapping out shorts and T-shirts for jeans and long sleeves. The must-do that makes me half wild.

The workload, the pressing neediness, the weight of it all feels tight around us. But the sun is warm. The breeze is cool. The sky is that long-for shade of blue. And the words are out of my mouth before I can catch them. "Let's jump ship and take a drive. Let's find a park and have some fun. We'll grab something to eat
along the way."

It doesn't take long for the multitude to agree. But even as we're flying down the road, leaving all that work behind, the heavy feeling stays. I know that the upcoming week looks like. Next weekend is tight, too. Maybe we should have stayed home. The responsible thing would've been to tackle that work.

An hour later we've found a park. Rocky bluffs fringe the Mississippi. The sun is warm our shoulders. We toss a blanket on the ground and break out lunch. Zay giggles when a grasshopper invites himself in. Gabriel shares a joke. We pass food and share laughter and stories. After we've finished, a few of us toss a football. Zay and I stretch out in the end-of-summer rays.

And the worries, the pressure, the to-do list ebbs away. The smudgy windows and dusty tables and needy bathrooms seem far.The overwhelming list of chores?

It's replaced with a list of joy.

I'm joyful to be here. I'm joyful to be with those I love. I'm joyful for the way Lonny talks with Gabe about the nest he's found and for the way Zay is resting beside me, arms tucked behind his head and face tilted toward the sun.

I'm joyful, even that it's the last day of summer.

Because those chores will wait.

And I need to be right here.

This is a day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Morning Friends,

I posted yesterday at Sozowomen for Wedded Wednesday. Please join me there for a few thoughts about
being rooted in the Lord, commitment, and grace.

Thanks. I hope that your weekend is filled with many wonderful things. I'll be back here Monday.



Monday, September 16, 2013

Day of Sweet Rest

I find him on the sofa. Breathing deep. Lashes locking out the world. There’s no rushing. No pulling. Not a hint of scrambling or marching for the clock.

Not today.

It's day of sweet rest.

The week washes away. The hurry. The fullness. The wild wonderful that is our life. There's nothing to bind us to busy. Nothing pressing.

 That will come tomorrow.

But today is quiet. The Lord knows we need it.

 And before Him we’ll be still.
Thank you, Lord, for a day of rest.

For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.       Exodus 20:18

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Filling the Empty

I recognize, as I move through the morning routine, wiping counters and doling out chores and searching for socks in the Great Mound that exists in the laundry room, that I'm feeling a little off inside.

It's not a terrible thing. There hasn't been a tragedy. It's not an overwhelming sadness. It's not that kind of thing.

It feels more like an...empty.

I know I'm not empty. I'm filled with the Holy Spirit. But today if feels that way.

 I can't sift it out completely - refine it until it's thin and pure enough to understand. Maybe it's because I've been a little too full to spend solid, quality time with the Lord (I suspect so). Maybe it's that I haven't been listening to the music that feeds and nourishes my soul. It could be that we're in that sort of militant place of getting our school/fall scheduled hammered out, and for a bit, it will be an "on to the next thing" sort of pace.

I'm not sure. Maybe a few things twisted together.

I just know that I want to be honest with my heart. And I want to be confident that the empty will be filled.

After all, as I Swiffer the floors and fill the day's clear, open lesson plan squares that wild scribbles that will be the boys' work, I remember that...

the Lord works with emptiness.

He spoke over a vast empty and creation was born.

He spoke into the empty of a cave that held no life - the void of death, and a breath-drawing man walked out.

He told tired, empty-handed fishermen to toss their nets over the edge of their boat once again and the bare nets filled with such a bounty of fish that took a mighty haul to get it inside.

I have every confidence that my own empty will be filled, brimming over, pressed full with life, too.

So - I call the boys down. It's time to start our day. There are things to do. Things to be accomplished. A half-million, maybe, or more (smile).

I'm not quite where I want to be yet.

But He's faithful. Powerful. Fully capable.

He provides.

And me?

In His grace, the fullness will come!

Thank you, Lord, for filling me when I feel empty. Amen.


Writing News: I have a couple of devotions in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Wives.

It's available now.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Let Him Sing

Morning Friends,

I had the sweet blessing of posting at Sozowomen again yesterday. Hop on over to read about a
hidden talent of my man. No, really - it's about how I'm understanding to appreciate, to hold precious things dear, and to know and see what's important.

Oh, I am so learning as I go....thanks for coming along with me!

I'm hoping you'll see God's love  in gentle and tender ways today. Have a wonderful Thursday.

(I'll be here now until the end of the month or so.)

With love,


"Let Him Sing"

Monday, September 2, 2013

Sweet, Small Stuff

Hi dear friends,

Hope this finds you warm, blessed,  with end-of-summer sun on your shoulders...

I'm posting over at Sozowomen today - another gentle in-the-van moment with Isaiah. Precious - how children can help open our eyes to God's wonderful things.

Here's the link. Thanks for hopping over and joining me there.

Sweet, Small Stuff

Monday blessings.

See you on Thurs!

With love,

Monday, August 26, 2013

So Long, Old Man Sam!

We used to call Samuel Old Man Sam. When he was smaller, he loved to sit around in his robe and slippers. He drank tea. He talked about deep things. He learned to read at an early age so it was a normal thing to find him reading, sipping, wearing....

Sam is eleven now and Old Man Sam has gone out the window.

Sam's my adventure seeker. This summer meant para sailing and diving. It meant learning to water ski, too.

We're on the river and Sam balances on the edge of the boat, toes curling, brown arms at his side. He's about to plunge in. Then we'll hand him his skis. We'll toss in the ski rope. We'll circle around him and put the rope close and when he's ready we'll "hit it" and the boat will surge forward like mad.

My mama's heart beats a mile a minute.

Sam is in the water now. It takes a few times, but before long he's is up. He's standing, water spraying around him. He's grinning so big and he nods his head and we know the signal.

Faster, Dad.

Old Man Sam sheds and this born-to-be-wild son has arrived.

Sometimes I look at this boy and I don't know how we've gone from there to here. Sam was three when Gabe was born. Zay came two years later. I hope some of his precious time, some of those tender moments, weren't washed away in the rush of those crazy-busy years.

But it was good. Now Sam is growing. Changing. And it's a good thing, too.

Father let my son grow in the ways of Your son. Let him, like Jesus, grow in wisdom and stature and favor with You and men.

It's a prayer I lift for my boys often. That they'd grow physically, socially, intellectually, emotionally, but most of all spiritually. That they'd grow in the Lord. That they'd anchor deep as they stretch into men.

Sam's arms are tired. We've turned twice. He was careful not to ski over the wake yet. I know his legs are tired, too.

Eventually he lets go of the rope and glides into the water.

For a second I sit straight in my "spotter" seat. He's wearing a life jacket but the Mississippi - it churns strong.

Then I see his head. Blondness bobbing. We pull a little closer and I see that he's beaming, too.

I love this new boy.

It's okay to hold those memories dear. That little boy will forever be in in my heart.

 But it's also okay to bid farewell to Old Man Sam.

And to reach for the new man he'll become!

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Morning dear Friends,

I've recently been invited to join the beautiful ladies at SozoWomen as a site writer. Sweet blessing! The site is lovely, encouraging, insipiring. Glory to God!

I'll be posting there a couple of times a month. I'll continue to post every Monday and Thursday here, but if I've recently posted at SozoWomen, I'll post the link at Family Grace with My Five Sons.

Like today.

Learning Defense - Shawnelle Eliasen

Please click on the link above for a message I've written on finding time to nurture a marriage, right in the middle of the wild and wonderful!

Have a blessing-rich, end-of-summer weekend. The boys and I are sending warm hugs.

With love,


Monday, August 12, 2013

Closet Cleaning

It's time to think about getting my homeschool classroom in order. It's a surly mess. Last spring we were lured by the sun on our shoulders, the blue skies, the early greens that brushed like tempera paint over the winter-long browns.

We jumped ship.

Now we're wading through the whispers of last year. Math papers stacked in the cabinet. Flashcards in unbundled piles. Journals holding heart words and binders bulging with science.

And then there's the closet.

My deep, dark mess.

I open the door and step back fast. Hard telling what will come lunging out. A stray bottle of glue. A spelling book. Or worse yet. A wayward compass with a sharp, pointy end.

I sigh.

This cavern of a closet is full.

I have no choice but to dig in. I want this closet in order. This closet needs to be in order. It's my resource place. When I need a book, a text, an answer key...a stick of glue, a ruler, a pair of scissors with ripply edges, I'll need a crisp, clean closet to produce the goods.

I'll want the good stuff to flow - unencumbered by this bulging, dreary mess.

So I pull a wild stack of books from the floor and begin to sort.

A tug a basket of dumped-together art supplies and begin to sift.

Halfway through the adventure, I understand that this closet is like my heart. There are good things. Fruit of the Spirit things. Treasure chest things that hold value like gold. But there's a knot of not-so-good, too. Darker things. Messy things. Things that may clutter the goodness.

And while I'm sitting pretzel-legged in the closet, contents building around me in small mountain heaps, the cleaning becomes a prayer.

Lord, there's a green mass of jealousy in the corner of my heart. Please pull it out.

Father, there's selfish ambition lurking in the deep. Remove it with Your tender hand.

Fear, God. It moves like a shadow. Covering and consuming and making light places gray. Pluck it?

It feels good to ask the Lord to sift through the contents of my heart. To ask him to help me remove the mess. I can't just stack the junk and haul it to the trash.

But the closet door, my heart door,  is open, and His light can shine in. It may take time. But the invitation is there. And He is faithful.

I poke through the markers. Some are good. Some have crushed, dry tips.


 It's a good thing.

 And as the piles around me grow, as I pray, I feel lighter and more free on the inside.

Like my in-good-order closet, my heart will produce good things.

I'm grateful for the cleaning.

I'm grateful for the grace.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. Psalm 51:1-2

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

Monday, August 5, 2013

Temptation and the Rescue Rope of Grace

There's a new Eliasen boy. His name is Flash. He's a retired racer. And because he's only known the track and kennel life, the household, the living-in-a-home experience is completely new to him.

Flash loves to be with us. He's gentle. Affectionate. Where we are is exactly where he wants to be.

And last night he wriggled under my bed.

I was perched on the edge, talking on the phone, and Flash was sprawled on his cushion. He disappeared for a moment and I thought he'd gone to seek some good lovin' from someone else. But when I finished talking and walked out of the bedroom, there was a whine. A yelp. Then an all-out cry.

I bent and peered under the bed. Flash was trapped. He tried to stand tall, to shimmy out, but he'd gone somewhere he shouldn't have been and he needed some help getting out.

"Lonny," I called. "Flash is stuck. Come lift the bed."

Lonny came to the rescue. Flash, true to his name, shot out fast.

Poor babe.

Oh, the goodness of being free!

Reminds me of myself sometimes. I'm tempted to wander into places I shouldn't go. Trapping places. Not-fitting places. Places I have really no need to be at all. Maybe it's a place of gossip. Maybe it's letting my thought life twist and travel on forbidden roads. Maybe it's allowing myself to crawl into the dark place of anger and unforgiveness.

Trapped in temptation. Stuck - just like Flash.

When I find myself in these tight-fitting spots, I'm grateful for God's promise. He tells me that when I'm tempted, trapped in temptation, He'll provide an out. An escape. A place to wriggle free.

He's a loving, helping Father - longing to let me loose.

Just like Lonny lifting the bed for pressed-in Flash.

It's a precious thing.

 This "out".

 This help.

This sweet rescue rope of grace.

Lord, thank you for rescuing me when I'm trapped in temptation. Thank you for your faithfulness.

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. I Corinthians 10:7

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Learning to Rest Part II

I was on the sand, stretched in the sun, when I heard the voices of two of my men.

"What do you think she'll say?" Samuel asked from behind me.

"She'll want you to have the experience," said my husband-man.

I'd just gotten used to Samuel swimming in the deep. Now I knew that something else, something bigger, was about to go down.

Lonny and Sam stepped in front of my towel and I sat and shielded my eyes. Maybe from the sun. Maybe from the impending adventure.

"Scuba lessons," Samuel said. "Mom, can you believe that they're offering a scuba lesson? Right here at the park. Today."

The "they" was a Michigan DNR and a local dive club. And my two bigger boys, previously sprawled on towels beside me, now sat and listened, too. I looked at the hopeful, born-to-be-wild faces of my sons. I was way out numbered. And I didn't want to be left behind.

"Okay," I said. "But if you're all going, I want to go, too."

Lonny's eyes went round and wide. Sam jumped in the air. The two big guys grinned.

And I wondered what I'd done.

I get like that sometimes. I want to be cool. I want to be adventurous. I want to be athletic. I want to keep up with my sons.

Never mind that just the thought of sucking canned air through a tube made me turn half blue.

But I wanted to join the adventure.So we split into two groups (someone had to watch the small boys). Sat on benches and took the class. Suited up. And headed for the lake.

I don't want to do this I thought as we waded into the water. Fear lapped at my heart though the water was only knee deep.

I'm comfortable in the water. I swim well. But something about having that equipment strapped to my back, something about talk of decompressing, something about sitting on the sand, on the bottom of that beautiful lake, breathing in and out, made me just come unglued.

"I'm heading back," I said after we'd gone under twice - in the shallows. It was either that or break my sanity seams. "I'm turning my flippers in."

My sons nodded. One winked at me through his foggy glass mask. An instructor walked me to shore.

And I peeled off the wetsuit and wondered why I push so hard.

I think that it's my season for learning about rest. I think that sometimes rest couples contentment. One follows the other on a sweet, short lead. If I'm content, with where I'm at, with who I am, with what I have, I can find sweet rest.

It's a rest of the spirit. It's a quieting of the soul. It's an allowance to be still, to let go, to stretch in the already-have blessing like one stretches and soaks in the sun.

I found my place on the beach. My towel was sun-kissed and warm. I sat and watched little boys fill buckets and shovel sand and laugh into the breeze.

They were content. They were happy. Their hearts were enjoying the blessing of rest.

I peered across the water, to the place where a line of blue told me the water had gone deep. A red flag floated on a tube. The boys were under.

And I was happy.

I was happy for them. I was happy for me.

I knew that when they surfaced, my boys would come ashore and share the adventure. I'd see the joy and passion and excitement in their eyes. I'd almost see what they had seen. I'd almost feel what they had felt.

And I suspected, now,  that this would be good enough for me.

Because I was learning the comfort of contentment, and in it I was beginning to find rest.

Thank you, Lord, for teaching me new ways to rest...