Monster Dash

This past weekend in the bitter cold Husband Jared and I completed yet another half marathon, one named the Monster Dash.  The course was inexplicably beautiful and I found myself spurred on wanting to round the next corner and catch a glimpse of the nature waiting for me.  The temperature gauge was not so friendly to us on this chilly morning, a mere 25 degrees when we were on our way to the starting line.  No matter, we had our layers, we had each other and we gave each other and ourselves a pep talk that included something along the lines of , just keep running, it's only 13.1 miles, this is what you've trained for.  Or not.  I told myself that I didn't have a problem backing out should there be snow or wind or any other weather ailments that might deter me from running my best or causing injury.  And then I told myself how lame that sounded and I better buck up and get to this running business.  That we did.  Each with our personal goal in mind we hit the course and found each other at the finish line within minutes of each other.  Another one in the books and not another on the calendar until warmer weather finds it's way to this frozen land. 

 Before the race, all smiles and trying to keep warm

 After the race, with our medals, relieved to have crossed the finish line

Thankful Thursday #108

* taken outside a church in Waconia -
each flag represents a baby who was aborted...powerful
1023. a new friendship being woven
1024. dreams being voiced
1025. heart conviction
1026. family days
1027. Things that still play at parks
1028. answered prayers for brother's family
1029. surprise run in to a sweet friend and her daughter
1030. fellowship over dessert
1031. race day approaching
1032. whip cream topping hot drinks that warm on chilly days

Family Fall Day

Every year, since I can remember, we have taken the four to a pumpkin patch of sorts.  A day spent at a local farm, meandering around, exploring, finding pumpkins and enjoying the changing of the seasons.  This year was no different.  Yet this year I found myself remembering visits past and thought I would share just one photo of the Things from a previous pumpkin patch visit.
Glendale, AZ 2005
Our Saturday called for sleeping in and having a slow morning at home, a rarity in our lives during this season.  Husband Jared had promised Yo Yo donuts for breakfast which meant maple-bacon deliciousness was on the menu.  A sweet treat for sure and a promising start to our day.  We checked football scores, anxiously waiting results from our team's match and then we bundled up and hit the road.  It is a beautiful ride out to the farm, foliage lined roads, all bedecked in majestic fall colors. 
This barn was waiting for us as we pulled into the farm.  Notice the unique barn quilt.

This being our first visit to this farm we knew we had made a good choice when we read on the website that this is a family farm and has been so for thirty years.  Wow.  We missed apple picking but we were still able to take a ride on the tractor through the orchards and vineyards and learn a few fun facts.  For instance, did you know that France and Minnesota share the same latitude and longitude coordinates?  Or at least a particular area in each place do, close enough, right?  Which is why Minnesota is known as the wine belt of the USA.  Who knew?  I certainly didn't.  Although the season here is considerably shorter than in France, the soil conditions are optimal for growing grapes.  Moving on, we also learned how apple trees are grafted and grown.  An interesting tidbit that Husband Jared and I knew nothing about.  If you attempt to grow an apple tree from the actual apple seeds you will wind up with a fruitless tree with branches.  Now, if you graft a branch from the tree and attach it just right to another tree you will have an apple tree of whatever variety.  That's basically the uneducated, not the horticulturist's description.  Of course the "baby" trees are grown someplace special, transported and grafted under optimal conditions.  Of course. 

 The Things and Mama on our tractor ride
The orchard
After our informative tractor ride around the farm the Things made friends with the animals of the farm.  Thing 3 never strayed far from this beauty.  There were lamas and goats and rabbits and farm dogs and farm cats.  Animals everywhere you turned.  Old tractors and farm equipment were scattered around as well.  The Things explored and then explored some more.  Thing 1 was busy snapping photos of a green covered barn, Thing 4 pretending to drive the tractor and Thing 2 talking to the animals. 

 Then it was time to choose pumpkins.  There was a monetary limit and the Things had to get creative with the selection they had.  And with that we ended up with a wagon full of varying pumpkins, short and round, long and tall, and just plain big. 

 The Four Things, love.

Their pumpkins

Once the pumpkins were loaded in the car we happened upon a playground that was empty and just begging us to stop and play.  So we did.  There was a merry go round and boy did they go round!  Husband Jared and I ran around and around in attempts to spin the Things faster and faster. 

Love this and love my man

We spent the next moments running, catching our breath and trying not to fall over.  I do believe that Husband Jared and I were running faster than the merry go round ever spun.  Go figure.  The Things were still squealing with delight and laughing and laughing.  Which in the end is always worth it.  Music to my ears.  The adventure ended at Lola's Lake house for some grub and card playing and then a quiet ride home.  Yeah right.  The family fun continued all the way home and then through dinner time, homemade pork ramen soup, prepared by Husband Jared and Thing 4 and snuggle time all together.  A wonderful family fall day. 


Thankful Thursday #107

A sampling of fall
1013. light shadows at my desk
1014. Christmas garland in the mail, special
1015. art to hang on the walls
1016. photos of nieces and nephew ready to hang on the wall
1017. family pictures to treasure
1018. rain drops on a day off of school
1019. sharing books with Thing 1
1020. watching debates together, explaining the hard stuff
1021. brother texts and answering with prayer
1022. The Word


* a garden shop in downtown Excelsior - note the sweet little piggy hanging, love.
Just the other day I took some time to meander the streets of downtown Excelsior and find some beauty.  It was waiting for me there.  A quaint street lined with too expensive shops and antique stores.  Similar to the likings of downtown Franklin but then again nothing like it.  It did however fill an ache in my heart for home.  I walked up and down the main street and sat and took in the stillness of the lake. The trees lining the perimeter of the shore have all taken their fall color.  Spectacular hues of maroon, gold and orange reflected on the water.  Just majestic. 

And I take it all in.  Just breathe and offer thanks.  I am here and there is purpose and this is beauty surrounding.  In all the little ways I choose to find it.  It is a waiting gift. 
I continue to walk around.  Clutching my camera.  Waiting for inspiration to jump out, grab hold.  I walk in and out of stores.  Browsing.  Touching the fabrics, not really looking for anything.  Smiling and thanking.  Then I see this.  Iron and red and standing tall.  The contrast strikes me and I snap away. The shadows against the paint, the space between, the twists and vines.  Such detail. 
Still I walk on.  Looking for more.  I people watch.  A past time I so enjoy.  Watching people engage in conversations, their expressions, body language, all with depth and stories untold.  I wonder about them.  More thankfulness rushes in.  Then I see this.
A painted wall on the side of a business standing next to a garden.  Just enough to make someone stop and smile.  There is more ground to cover, so to speak and so I walk on, cross the street.  Debate on stopping at the bakery and then I don't.  I press my nose to the glass of a Scandinavian store and smile politely at the woman on the bench watching.  At the end of the street there is a theatre.  Old.  Only showing a few films.  It intrigues me.  Makes me think about the stories it holds and the popcorn and the history, maybe busier in the summer months when the weather is warm and there are boats docked nearby and people scattered everywhere. 
My time is nearing an end.  There are errands to run and reality to face.  Yet for this brief visit I found beauty.  Little gratitude clips all around.  Loveliness that was waiting to be found. 

Just Words

For a few minutes I am challenging myself to sit here and type.  Total stream of conscious, whatever comes to mind.  Without editing, or deleting or agonizing over the connotation.  Here goes.
Light streaming in through the window, filtered and shadows of wings flying about.  They dart to and fro, one even landing on our sill.  Holding on tight to the screen, not sure where to go next.  Calling out in song to fellow feathered friends.  An answer and into the tree it flies.  Immediate response. 
Coffee in my cup, right beside me, never far.  A camera sitting on the desk, beckoning me to get out and capture creation.  Where to today?  No work, maybe a walk around the lake?  Leaves changing and a drive on a windy road?  The possibilities are endless.  Or are they?  There's always the to do list and dinner to think about for the family and laundry and house chores as I call them.  They can wait though, right?  Feeding my soul is important too.  And that's what being outside, surrounded by Him does for me.  Fills me all up with joy. 
Yes, that's right.  Are a few minutes over?  I didn't really set a timer, just watching the clock on the screen.  That was really harder than I thought and less than what I imagined I would write.  

Thankful Thursday #106

corn stalks from our visit to the pumpkin patch last year
1003. hearing the Things, all four of them, burst through the door after school
1004. windy nights snuggling close
1005. bluest skies in the fall
1006. Japanese maples turning
1007. the way my cream swirls in my coffee
1008. gratitude first thing in the morning from Thing 1
1009. Thing 4 and how he holds my hand
1010. antics around the dinner table, theatre style from Thing 3
1011. highlighted hair hanging on Thing 2
1012. music blaring while I clean

About Done

My Things know the phrase well, "I'm done".  They have heard it countless times, still hear it.  Not quite as often these days.  But on those days when their hands were little and the questions constant and this Mama was worn thin inside and out they heard those words. 
How those words cut deep.  Just when the mountain was so big and just when the patience thin and the words weren't right they slithered out on my lips.  A warning if you will.  Of what?  I'm sure they did not know.  I'm fairly certain that I didn't even know.  The Mama that followed that statement was not reflective of grace based parenting I'm sure. 
Yet here I am.  Umpteen years later of parenting and we still stand.  A family of six.  I can't ever take back those words though and that still stings.  Words strung together and delivered can never be redone.  And thank the Lord, no really, THANK THE LORD, that He is never done with us.  He continues to pursue us.  When we are done, He isn't.  Not ever.  Despite, or maybe in spite of us, He presses on.  Until He deems it finished we are not. 
Today that echoes in my soul.  It comforts and soothes and provides a salve. 
In the chaos here of these six there is a constant stream of words.  On a Monday morning an unhappy girl doesn't hug back and my feelings are hurt and I use sarcasm to mask that, to make light of the situation.  Her sister throws ugliness out at her and that unhappy teenager oozes sarcasm to cover the wound.  A boy sleepy and unhappy with breakfast choices lays his head down at the table grumbling and this Mama ups her tone to emphasize the need for this first meal of the day.  One more coming through the kitchen eyes barely open, no words there and we all shuffle about our day.  They leave with a wave and I'm left in tears knowing I didn't make any souls stronger.
Here's what I know now.  He's not done and neither am I.  New mercies everyday and if He's willing a new morning to try it all again.  So I'm called to what really should be the first of the day, the Living Bread and there I find it.  Proverbs.  Words imparted from Solomon.  A guide to living a worthy life.  There I find truth and instruction and that is where I start.  And once again where I thank the Lord that He isn't done and neither am I. 
The first passage I come to, Proverbs 4:24;
"Put away perversity from your mouth;keep corrupt talk from your lips".
Then Proverbs 10:11;
"The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked."
 And my favorite, Proverbs 16:24
"Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."

Thankful Thursday #105

mushrooms on a long ago hike in Natchez Trace, doesn't that one look a little like a heart?
I thought so too.
* Thankful Thursday on a Friday because this week has flown by me
 and I must pause for gratitude
993. leaves changing all around
994. facetime
995. driving Things to and fro
996. crisp mornings
997. sunshine peeking through
998. under blankets snuggling
999. Thing 4 and Husband Jared spending "boy" time together
1000.Thing 1 helping me in the fashion arena
1001. Thing 2 with sincere words
1002. Thing 3 having fun with a good friend

The First of Octember

Anyone know where that title comes from?  Only a book that Husband Jared and I must have read a thousand times or so to the little Things, "The First of Octember", by Dr. Seuss.  His books were their favorites.  All the stories that took an hour to read, just to prolong bedtime.  What I wouldn't give for them to ask for me to read to them again.  I treasure those story times snuggling in bed. 
I digress, so sorry.  It seems with the changing seasons a certain nostalgia is always pricked in my heart.  The Things just seem so grown up and independent these days.  Don't get me wrong, we absolutely love the stage we are in parenting these four.  Truly. 
Well here I was prepared to write about community, overused word today in the church if you ask me, and all that goes with it and I am writing once again about four Things.  Can't help it.  What I really wanted to do today was share a verse with you.  It is from First Thessalonians and in it Paul is addressing the church in Thessalonica.  This was intended as encouragement for the people there being persecuted for their beliefs, for having resolve and confessing the Lord as their Savior.  Despite the trials Paul was facing and his own thorns, if you will, he chose to spur his fellow believers on.  All for the sake of the Gospel.  Amen brother.  Amen. 

This is not where I delve deep into the Word and share any of my personal understanding or revelations that have been shown to me from this passage.  I simply am exploring and learning in my quiet time lessons specific to me.  Learning how to go beyond ME, how to be quiet, how to listen and frankly if that doesn't bring me back to the Gospel than it is for not.  Beautiful to contemplate, challenging to live out.  So sweet friends, read the words below the picture, let them sink in and stay there a while with them.  There is power there.
Let us go about His business, not our own.  Let us do so in love, out of love and with love.  To those that have heard, those that are waiting to hear and those standing beside us persevering.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you.
Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.
Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.
Be joyful always; pray continually;
give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
Brothers, pray for us. Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

I Thessalonians 5:11-28