Climbing Kilimanjaro for Esperance and All

Today I’m praying for my friends and sisters who are climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. A handful of women, two from the Redbud Writers Guild, are trekking up Kili as a fundraiser for women who are demeaned by their culture simply because they are women. This movement, One Million Thumbprints, is a “movement of peacemakers overcoming the effects of war on women.” It sounds peacenik, like a bunch of 1960’s retro-gals who let go of Hendrix and got ahold of the idea that real change can be won one woman at a time. That’s not all bad, particularly if you’re stuck in America chained to the election blather and wondering if God has anything good left for our country. Presidential candidates joking about yoga during a debate? As we say in Lent, “Good Lord deliver us.”

When I learned about this trip last fall I wanted to go and represent the Afghan Women Writers awwproject.org whom I mentor. These Afghan ladies walk an hour to an internet hot spot trying to sneak a cry of truth out into the world. Highlighting their voices from the mountaintop would raise awareness and funds to help support them and all women marginalized by the effects of war in their respective countries. I even have a picture of Kili on my Pinterest “Dream” board so I qualify. My sons have researched climbing Kili and it takes 4 -6 days depending on the route. Hopefully, they’re taking the six day journey which provides the most time to adjust to the altitude, meaning less altitude sickness. I know from experience that you don’t go out one October morning and run the Chicago Marathon, training helps. Alas, my day on the mountaintop awaits. My son’s last high school musical is running and papers need grading.

Instead, I’m here on my knees for these brave climbers, who give voice to women like Esperance and the hundreds of women who are raped every day on the front lines of sectarian conflict. You can learn more about them at www.onemillionthumbprints.org Please add your thumbprint, buy the devotional guide or even give to the cause because you know that healthy girls, thriving women, and educated mothers bring good into our world. As you walk into Marriano’s to buy your fresh squeezed orange juice at the ridiculously low price of $3.99, think of Sudanese women walking miles for water or Syrain women boiling dandelion greens to keep their families alive. I’m not trying to motivate you out of guilt. I make this grocery store trek weekly and I also don’t think of them while on my suburban pilgrimage, although I should.

If you have a yearning to change the world, hang out with people who share your heart. Another one of my favorite organizations which educates young girls in the third world is www.roomtoread.org  John Wood started Room to Read by collecting books in his garage and then taking them via a train of yaks up into the Himalayas to a school that kept their few books under lock and key, fearing they would be taken. Room to Read is changing the world for good.

Dig into what you’re passionate about. Learn and live it. When I climb Kilimanjaro I’ll let you know and if you write and say you want to climb for the cause near and dear to your heart, you’re welcome to come along. What issue is burning in your heart today?1MTClimb4Peacefront

We’re All Spring Ephemerals

While walking my yorkie-poo this morning I spot these early harbingers. Tufting out of the last fall’s rotting leaves a sunshine nugget shoots forth, one blossom so tiny you could miss it. After looking right then left, I reach down beneath my big toe and pick one. A single winter aconite (Eranthis). Six transparent yellow petals surround a burst of stamen rays, all clustered together to protect themselves from what might be tomorrows predicted snow. They belong in the ranunculus family (my favorite flower), but they look like summer buttercups. Ephemeral – transitory, short lived. Like us.

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We’ve been admiring “Bobby’s winter aconite” since our kids piled into double strollers and headed down to our neighbor’s corner. All of us longing for a blast of fresh air and someone to kick their new spring ball. You know the ones Target keeps in corded cages that you wrench the ball free from revealing its pastel glory, knowing that in about a week, POP! MOMMY(sobbing, hitting). Winter aconite makes a yellow carpet in Chicago’s February sun. Our eyes stare at the vivid swath of ground level warmth after months of twiggy grey, white and black. Color, all too short lived burns our retinas with newness of life.

The single stem now sits in a tiny bud vase on my writing desk, actually a Sanbitter bottle from the grocery store. Lifting it for a sniff propels me through today’s writing projects with a dose of perspective. We are all Spring Ephemerals. Our lives start out every bit as fresh as this bud, no wrinkles, unfocused blue eyes, cradle cap heads in need of nurture by caring, mature hands. We unfurl, for good or bad. With grace we’re given our day to bloom. Our eighty years is an hour equivalent in the life of this unassuming flower. Yet despite its hiddenness, the silent beauty of winter aconite dependably bursts upon us, leading us into the full spectrum of color which is there for the taking every year.

“What is all this juice and all this joy?

A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning

In Eden garden.”

from Spring by Gerrard Manley Hopkins

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Polar Plunging Into 2016!

As the LARGE bearded men gathered in their white robes on the beach of Lake Michigan, I had second thoughts. We’ve attended the January 1st Polar Bear Plunge over the years and laughed at the pounds of searing red flesh exiting the water and half naked people of all sizes standing in coolers of hot water to revive their frozen feet. This year was my year. No ice to be chopped up means no ice cutting through your shins and knees as you fly out of the water as fast as your near hypothermia muscles can get you ashore. Another edge, our friends who are seasoned plungers were going in and they knew the tricks, e.g. HOT water coolers, clothes waiting on chairs so they don’t get soaked, must wear shoes so you can run out more effectively and most important, go out in the front of the crowd to avoid the back up of tiptoers into the water who slow down the process to a polar crawl.

While festing at a New Years Eve party the night before a yogi was asked what she thought of the plunge, “I think it would be great for your lymph system.” Of course, this is the main reason to do it. All my lymph nodes will be excruciatingly squeezed and therefor detoxed for about two minutes. Sounded like a good idea, but then I could enjoy this benefit at my local juice bar while waiting for my cut of locavore salmon. Another compelling reason was provided by my girlfriend who served in the Marine Corp., (the real one, not the 35 degree water marine corp. we were about to dip into) “It propels you into the new year like nothing else. It kind of sets the tone for your whole year.” Hmmm. What might my whole year be like if I plunge? Visions of conquering new, unforseen heights and depths of creativity came to mind. Now that’s a benefit.

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The “Jump Around” music blasted out of the speakers and we got psyched up by jumping around. The new years day countdown to plunge sang out and off we all charged into what might be our end. There are several ambulances and firefighters who stand waiting to retrieve the weak and frail, or the many Packer fans who are overloaded with holiday cheese curds and Cherry Bounce, yes they go in too and you can smell them on the beach before you hit the water. Here’s what I learned:

– 35 degree water is easy to run out in but it makes it hard to run back. Your system is so shocked that you can’t breath, but your muscles need oxygen to get you out. This is why the kayaks and fireman are in place so no one goes out too far.

– There is a camaradarie that comes with doing something stupid. My son plunged with me and we are now proud members of the Polar Bear Club. The organizers give you a certificate if you sign the waiver saying you won’t sue them if you die. I wonder how many plunges you need to get one of those white robes with the official polar bear patch on them? Those were impressive. If my son gets one before I do, I will be jealous.

– 25 degree air feels like 25 degree air whether you are wet or dry. The difference is that your body becomes stiff when wet so park your car CLOSE to the beach.

– Hot water filled coolers provide the difference between life and death.

I hope this inspires many of you to plunge next New Years Day! Here’s the video of our graceful water ballet if you need more motivation. God bless your 2016 with healthy lymph nodes and the fulfillment of all your resolutions. Check out the lady in the white bikini holding the two stuffed polar bears. Now that’s Wisconsin!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5UGt6XD3Co

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The Ups and Downs of Aquiring an Unholy Desire

While sitting in our favorite crepe restaurant the other night, La Creperie www.lacreperiechicago.com, our oldest son asked, “What have you spent money on recently that you really wanted?” The question was directed at my husband and after thinking it over he said, “wine.” I know this is true because his smartphone is always tuned to Robert Parker’s wine reviews when I turn on Google. Like his father, he has become somewhat of a student of wine, forever in search of the exquisite yet affordable (no more than $15.00) red table wine. When you are paying for college and private high school, you don’t buy much for yourself, but the question woke me up in the middle of the night calling for an answer.

My wants are more intangible; more of God’s presence, more time in my garden to get the insanely invasive “prairie plant” under control before it destroys the entire perennial bed, the opportunity to travel the world and see every painting ever painted by Caravaggio.  These items do not come by my debit card and they don’t answer our son’s question, but one item comes to mind and it is a lesson in how we probably shouldn’t desire a certain thing too much.

Emma Toft is one of my heroines in life. Her image can be found on my Pinterest under the Hero’s category,  https://www.pinterest.com/margaretphilbri/heroes/ but her watermark is best found on the 300 plus acres of land in Wisconsin that she bequeathed to the University of Wisconsin. I’ve spent countless hours exploring and praying in her woods, even geeking out with binoculars and gawking at an eagle’s nest that reappears in the top of the white pine tree each spring. When she could no longer live off the land, she moved into town on highway 57. Her clapboard home recently became the town Visitor Center and during the renovation I saw them, two castaways inside a chain link fence out back, two old wooden ladders. We are talking old ladders, as in dowled together, covered with splatters of whitewash and rotting in the rain old. I’ve been fantasizing about acquiring Emma’s ladders and placing my hands on her rungs. Climbing one foot at a time where she placed her work boot protected feet. Although she’s been dead for more than thirty years, somehow owning those ladders would draw her closer to me. So like any wise woman intent on getting what she wants, I plotted.

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In June I walked into the visitors center and asked, oh so casually if I could have them, just to take the rotting garbage out back off their hands. The adorable senior volunteer smiled and said, “No. I’ve already asked for them and the folks said no. I thought they’d be cute to hang plants on ‘em.” Hang plants on this sacred object? Hmm, this was not going to be as easy as I’d imagined. I seriously thought about stealing them but the Lord’s Prayer kept me from that temptation as well as the thought of how to explain to my husband the sudden appearance of two ancient fifteen foot ladders. By the end of the summer, I decided to call the town hall and find out who was in charge of the visitors center. “Well I think that’s June Greeley, just let me check here.” I told June I would give a donation to the Visitor’s Center if she would let me take those ladders. “Oh, let me talk to the board about it and I’ll get back to you.” The Board of a town visitor’s center, a town of less than a thousand people? You are kidding me.  A month went by and she didn’t call.

I couldn’t bring myself to pray for these ladders, the thought was too selfish. What would we do with them if we did get them? As fading summer crickets chirped in the evening, I clung to the chainlink fence, staring down at them. They looked unusable, half rotten. I began to talk myself out of it, This is a completely impractical, irrational desire, get over it, But then the blessed voicemail came. “The Board has agreed to let you have the ladders for a donation. You can pick them up any time.” JOY inescapable washed over me as I drove home from teaching that Monday afternoon. Emma Toft’s ladders were ours! A piece of Emma, coming into our home! They would transform the living room with their primitive character and unique aesthetic. However distant, a part of her life would inhabit ours and this glory was accomplished for only a small donation.

Both ladders were soaking wet when I picked them up. The smaller of the two ladders fell apart into six pieces when I put it in the car. The giant ladder was full of earwigs, seeping out of each interlocking joint. They would need some serious repair and drying out. After a few days of debugging and baking in the sun I managed to prop the giant one up against the stucco wall in our living room. It looked incomplete, like Shel Silverstein’s Missing Piece or the Bridge to Nowhere. Perhaps someone didn’t finish painting the room and they left their ladder behind hoping to come back? The ladder is so huge and old that it’s dangerous. It could fall on a visiting child or crush the piano. It took me twenty minutes to get the beast back outside without killing myself. I called my father for consolation and a dose of vision. He helped, a little. “Oh you need to make a complete display out of it with a variety of rural antiquities, you know, a bunch of old farm stuff mounted on the wall in a group.”

Right now the dilapidated ladders are resting under an outside staircase waiting for their redemption and restoration. What would Emma Toft do? What will we do with them? I really wanted these ladders but now I seem to have inherited an even bigger project by acquiring them. Was it worth all the energy spent desiring them? This story is incomplete, but I might just be at an age where I need to stick to my holy, intangible desires … praying for them, trusting God to fulfill them in his own way and in his good and right time. If you have an idea of what to do with these monsters, please let me know. And, if you want to read more about the inimitable Emma Toft, here’s the link. Now I put our son’s question to you, what have you spent money on recently that you really wanted? How has it worked out?

http://www.doorcountycompass.com/blei/emma/emma_toft.htm

My favorite quote in this article, when asked what she wants to be remembered by: “Trying to keep the home place. Making people enjoy the out of doors. If you can’t make people love the out of doors, then they’re ignorant. Make them enjoy it. It’s the little things. That’s, I suppose, why so many people don’t see it.” Emma Toft’s interview with author Norbert Blei

 

 

“She Was Always Looking Up”

The funeral I attended today for 20 year old Chase Froese helped me long for heaven. I didn’t know Chase well. She was in our daughter’s class growing up and in my limited view she was the sweet, pretty girl with a big brain. She earned the science award when they graduated from eighth grade, but now I know I can’t wait to hang out with her when I get there.

Her friends from high school and college presented stunning tributes amidst an ocean of floral wreaths on the stage. They talked about her free spirited adventurous side, how she would get them up to see the sunrise and present them with a question of the day, followed by another, “Why?” in response to their answer.  She was a philosophy major so that makes perfect sense. Her boyfriend thanked her for treating him so well and giving him one year of her life. He told us how much he loved her and managed to get though it all without crying. The thing I remember most was that she was described as, “always looking up.” While the other college kids hunkered down in their North Face jackets and walked across campus in subzero weather, Chase was looking up. She was a girl who enjoyed taking on the strong headwind, feeling its force with gratitude. More than just facing the elements, she walked through life looking up at Jesus. She was constantly looking up to him and for him.

I imagine as she was sinking into that frigid Lake Michigan water she was praying, looking up and he was right there with her. Knowing Jesus, he was carrying her to the other side, drying her off and cooking her fish for breakfast.

My deepest sorrow and yet gratitude to the Froese family for raising such an empowered by the Holy Spirit woman. May the rejoicing of angels comfort you as you mourn, dream and see the next sunrise. I hope when I get to heaven Chase Froese is my tour guide.

ESPN’s Sage Steele and Our Foster Child

Until I sat in the Indiana University Memorial Stadium, I’d never heard of Sage Steele. Her name sounds like it belongs in a heavy metal band. When I learned she was the chosen speaker for the 2015 I.U. graduation I confess to rolling my eyes and thinking,  a sportscaster, come on, can’t we do better? As I sat listening with about 10,000 other family members, I looked down the row at our foster daughter who was on the edge of her concrete seat. Sage Steele gave us all a lesson in effective speaking to a LARGE group but she gave our twelve year old Liberian darling much more:

  1. Be vulnerable – She talked about how she almost flunked out of college, a fact not often shared. Her professors brought the problems to her attention and put people around her to get her though. It took five years, but she made it.
  2. Be gutsy and virtuous – Despite the fact that the I.U. rabbi managed to give the invocation without making it a prayer or even mentioning God, Ms. Steele offered a portion of the Cadet prayer from West Point to close out her speech.

O God, our Father…encourage us in our endeavor to live above the common level of life. Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half truth when the whole can be won. Endow us with courage that is born of loyalty to all that is noble and worthy, that scorns to compromise with vice and injustice and knows no fear when truth and right are in jeopardy. Guard us against flippancy and irreverence in the sacred things of life. Grant us new ties of friendship and new opportunities of service. Kindle our hearts in fellowship with those of a cheerful countenance, and soften our hearts with sympathy for those who sorrow and suffer.

Her challenge to the I.U. graduates, choose the harder right along life’s path instead of the easier wrong.

  1. Inspire – When she was 12 years old, Ms. Steele told her parents she wanted to be a sportscaster. Her dad drilled her on sports facts, teams and trivia until she knew more than Bob Costas. Patiently working her way up the ladder from local Indiana basketball coverage to bigger arenas, her career moved forward. But, when the ESPN dream phone call came, she said, “No, thank you.” Pregnant with her first child, Ms. Steele chose to put family first and stay home. As she put it, she chose the “harder right instead of the easier wrong.” ESPN called again when her child was older and this time she was in a position to say, “yes.”

Our five foot tall foster daughter learned this semester that she can jump. Upon the encouragement of her gym teacher, she competed in her first track meet. In the long jump, she broke a ten year school record and flew 14’ 8”. She also came in first place in the high jump, and in gym class first place for the vertical jump, 25” without trying. Apparently there was only one student to challenge her with 23” and all she needed was an inch more to out jump her. The weekend she heard Sage Steele address the fulfillment of her dreams and her failures along the way, our little jumper told us, “I’m going to go to the Olympics in track and field someday.”

Thank you Sage Steele for helping a five foot Liberian girl believe in big dreams! Thank you for sharing your heart and having the guts to instruct us in things most people today are too afraid to say.

Who’s Your Agent?

My dear friend signed a contract with an agent today. We met during a writing prompt session in the intimate library of the Margarite House in Evanston, four years ago. A handful of us writing strangers with no established trust hunkered down in red leather chairs to write our response to the prompt, “Write about your father’s eyes.” Outside, the robins serenaded us while magnolia petals dripped onto the windowsill. Our pens ripped across the pages of our red and black Redbud notebooks. When ten minutes flew by, we stared at each other. Who would be brave? Who would share first?

As the responses trickled out, we heard about how we all lived under the hand of dysfunctional fathers. By the time Sheli read, tears poured on pages. We coaxed her along because we shared our souls and she could too. I’ve been in many of these sessions where the author can’t read on and another writer finishes reading her work, but Sheli hung in there. She took breaks, we passed her Kleenex. Her father stalked her in their house while she hid under the bed as a child.  When she finished we all kept silence. The open leaded glass window allowed sunlight to gentle our circle. We prayed for Sheli. We prayed that someday she would share her story with the world, that she would keep being brave. Today I raise my chamomile tea to her terrified determination. Someone else in a small literary agency on the other side of the country believed in her voice.

I spent this morning being brave speaking to a book group at a local country club. When you speak to a large group there will be people there who don’t care about what you have to say. For some reason they came expecting something else. Those women were at the farthest table in the back. While I read from my novel they chattered away and giggled. My junior high students wouldn’t do this in class. I kept going and did what we all must do, ignore them. One woman on her way out said to me, “You were marvelous. You must have a hundred people lined up to be your agent.” I stood silent, too afraid to tell her that I’m agentless because I live in a world where every successful author has an agent. Her question gnawed at me. When things chip at my being I take them to my writing desk and pray. It occurred to me, ask God to be your agent. I did. He said, “yes,” an enthusiastic yes!

So today Sheli and I both have our agents and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Please take in some of Sheli’s raw, unadulterated story at: http://shelimassie.com/

Who’s your agent?

 

A New Year, A New Life and Love

She’s never been to Starbucks. Never stayed in a hotel. Never heard a bedtime story and now she’s living with us. Our new year began on Janurary 2nd.  We drove a quiet 11 year old girl from Boston to our home, arriving at 2:00 a.m. to be greeted by welcome notes and lavender macaroon cookies left out on the counter by our other kids.

On December  10th, 2014 we were going about our lives, getting ready for Christmas. We snuggled into our cozy beds and drifted off to sleep as the street light shone through spyrographic ice on our bedroom window. At 4:00 a.m. God woke me up, to the sound of my own voice yelling, “Hurry!”  At first I wasn’t sure it was God, it was “just a dream,” a dream about an adorable girl we know in our Sunday night Bible study in the refugee apartments. “I’m going to be adopted,” she said in the dream, working her small rough hand into mine. “I want to show you where I’m going to live so you can meet them.” We flew through the air and landed in the rugged courtyard of her new apartment complex. Several young, jobless or homeless men gathered around burning trash barrels to stay warm. The icicles dripped rust from the balconies. “It’s that one up there on the end, next to the stairs. I’ll be able to come and go as I want to.” She smiled as she pointed out a lacquered black door on the second floor. We began to creep across the courtyard toward the staircase, arms locked so we didn’t crash on the ice. The circle of young men in “wife beater” t-shirts, gangsta jewelry and flannel coats approached, questioning me. “What are you doin’ here?” Danger slashed across their faces. We began to back up. I whispered to my little friend, “I think we need to get out of here. Hurry!”

This dream, so vivid, spoke of impending doom and urgency. Something was wrong. Reaching over the edge of the bed for my computer, I immediately emailed the Bible study co-leader. It was 4:00a.m. “Is she o.k.?” I just needed to know. Her response back, “I think your dream was from God. Her father is moving her to Boston on December 16th. She doesn’t want to go.”  In six days!  We started praying. My husband agreed that perhaps God was showing us something in the dream and we should speak to her dad about the possibility of her living with us. Her dad agreed, but first she would go to Boston for Christmas. We checked out the neighborhood they were moving to. From a crime perspective, it’s one of the worst.

Many miles later, we sit in Starbucks and sip hot chocolate. I’m teaching her to play the piano after school and she is singing in our church children’s choir. We’ve read Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Number the Stars and tonight, The Witch of Blackbird Pond at bedtime. She’s getting fat eating American food rather than Liberian pepper soup. She laughs with her brothers who live nearby and our kids and we’re all learning together; learning to make room, to share, to sacrifice our personal schedules, to listen to 103.5fm instead of our favorite stations on the way to school. We are learning to live with and love someone new every morning and every night.

As I walk the dog after getting everyone to school, I’m thankful. I thank God that he still speaks in dreams and visions. I thank him for always doing something new, so thankful that her father said, “yes,” and as we walk toward Valentine’s Day, I thank him that he is still teaching us all how to love.

Watching and Waiting with Wonder

Watching and Waiting with Wonder

Signs and wonders. A phrase so common in the Bible that the word “wonder” appears 109 times. Wonder is defined as:

The feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.

Children own wonder. It’s engrained in the purity of their hearts and expressed through their senses.  How often I’ve watched my own children see and interact with the created world differently. While sitting in church, I remember a fat, sticky hand caressing my face with such intimacy and adoration that I flinched. The gesture was borderline embarrassing. Our toddler son once exclaimed, “Mommy, I have a sunset on my mouth,” as he caught a glimpse of his grape juice moustache in the mirror.

 

What would it take for me to walk out this Advent season of preparation in a state of unencumbered wonder?

 

In pursuit of truth and beauty we must remain children all our lives,” wrote Albert Einstein. He recognized the need for us to seek after the true and the beautiful as children. Seeking takes time and focus, the ability to slow down and see the world both at ground level and in the expanse of the heavens, to stand in front of the unopened box and wonder what’s inside. Children have the capacity to do both these things simultaneously. I’ve watched countless little league t-ball games freeze as the commercial jet flies overhead. One minute they’re missing the drive to second base because of ants in the grass and the next, dropping the ball out in right field because of American Airlines. Children see the wonder of creation down low, in the individual blade of grass and then they roll over and see the majesty of the sky. They do not rush to get up and get on to the next thing. They gaze.

 

I have to retrain myself to experience the world anew, to open my eyes and see, taste and touch for the first time.

 

I’m learning that the key to experiencing Advent with the wonder of a child is found in seeing Jesus. He is the source of beauty, truth and wonder: “As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him” (Mark 9:15). These words offer comfort and hope for the weary commuter and the exhausted, nose-wiping mother. It says “all the people.” We who are waiting and watching for him are part of that glorious group of “all.” We are in the crowd and the children are with us. And we too, can be overwhelmed with wonder.

 

Still, in Advent what do I usually wonder about? Finding the right Christmas gift, paying the bills, year-end giving choices, gaining weight, projects that were New Year’s resolutions that I probably won’t get to? Instead of worrying about these earthly realities, I’m shifting my focus this Advent to waiting on him.

 

I grew up with a simple countdown to Christmas peppermint rope that my mother grabbed at a church bazaar. My brother and I read a little poem as we took turns untying the peppermint candy from its red yarn bow. Like an Advent calendar, this colorful tool made bedtime tasty, but the waiting was endless. Our three-year old daughter learned about the pain of waiting while watching the Nutcracker ballet for the first time. She reveled in the opening battle scene and Clara’s escape to the Kingdom of Sweets. As the second act journey took us to tea parties in Arabia, she grew fidgety and bored. For her, it was all about seeing the Sugar Plum Fairy dance to her celestial music. In a whining whisper she leaned into me, “WHEN is the plum sugar going to come out?” Impatience, almost tears, consumed her.

 

What if we felt this way about waiting for the Lord’s return? Would a single experience of wonder make us wait differently?

 

I have a habit of praying before getting out of bed in the morning. It starts out with a simple prayer our children learned in Sunday school, “Good morning Lord, this is your day. I am your child, please show me your way.” This Advent, I’m adding to the prayer. “Give me eyes of wonder and a heart of love to see what you have in front of me today.” Come Lord Jesus. Give us your heart, Lord.  Give us your eyes.

 

 

Thank You Note to God

Dear God,

It’s been awhile since I’ve written to you. Usually we’re just talking. I don’t know how many letters you get, but since Thanksgiving is coming up it felt like a good time to say thank you in a different way. I’ll try not to make this too long because you have tons to do. As I sit back and think about it, you’ve been really busy this year.  Causing the sun to rise everyday must be exhausting, but then again you’re God so you don’t get tired.

Thank you for giving me life and for healing me from Lyme disease. Thank you for meeting me in the middle of those July nights when I felt like might burn a hole through the bed. Thank you that our goldfish (Goldie and Arthur), are still alive after one year and seven months. Thank you for all our friends who listen so still and so well, even when we’re crying and can’t get the words out. Thank you for the success of our eighteen year old friend’s stem cell transplant who’s now on the way to living out all the good plans you have for his life. Thank you for a beautiful, WILD garden this year, despite the lack of time to weed it. Thank you for all the help we receive from Super-Sod Landscaping because we don’t have time to cut the grass. Thank you for the people you’ve given me a chance to share my writing with. Thank you for the out-of-the-box creativity of my publisher, Koehler Books. Thank you for the Redbud Writer’s Guild. Thank you for the Afghan Women’s Writing Project. Thank you for my wondrous students and their profoundly good hearts. Thank you that I was born in the United States of America and I still live here. Thank you for Church of the Resurrection and the hope of being transformed every Sunday. Thank you that you are always doing a new thing, even when we can’t see it. Thank you for seeds, those planted and those waiting in drawers to be planted. Thank you for the chance to see baby eagles in their nest this past summer. Thank you that both of my parents and my brother are alive and for all the JOY and challenge they bring to my life. Thank you for Wydemere retirement community. Thank you for my big family and the times I’ve seen them this year. I miss my cousins. I wish could see them more often than at funerals. Thank you for the writers that you’ve used to inform my life this year, especially Luci Shaw, Richard Foster, Margaret Hasse and Mary Oliver. Thank you for our dog, Snuggles, her speed, and her hunger for adventure. Thank you for mentors who live to see their 80th birthday (C. Grissom that’s you, oh blessed OCTO!) Thank you for the colorful palette of our children’s lives. Thank you for Door County, Wisconsin, especially High Pines, Mud Lake and Toft Point. Thank you that I’m 52, can still run and sprint the finish. Thank you for my husband – so many thank yous here I could fill the page – you already know them all. Thank you for your sacrifice in giving us Jesus and the chance to get to know him.

I think that about covers it. Happy Thanksgiving God and thanks for being you!

Love,

Margaret