Friday, December 30, 2011


628. Getting to share in the close fellowship of my mom-in-law's small church.

629. Believers who have retired from their professions, but not from ministry.

630. Uncle Jeff cutting up with the kids.

631. Stargazing by a warm fire--loving Google skymap!

632. Egg #5!

633. 101 Things to do with caution tape, by Ashley and Hallie

634. Cousins who don't worry about "blood" relation.

635. Camille safely here!

636.  Picking up where we left off.

637. Humility lessons

638. Little brown rooster nursed back to health after being bullied.

639. One full serving of peas from the garden.

640. UNO every night.

641.  Camille's funny and very French facial expressions.

642. Loud family Christmas Eve dinner.

643. Odell sleepover.

644.  Friends around the fire Christmas night.

645. Reed's nom nom shirt from Noah.

646.  More UNO to help Camille connect.

647. Kids who appreciate being rich in relationships more than rich in stuff.  Empty stockings but full hearts.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What's in a Name?


This is her season!  Of all the seasons of the year, this is the one where we remember the girl from Nazareth and her sacrifice.  She is extra special to me because I share her name.

A couple of years ago I was challenged to dig into the real meaning of my name because names are more important than we realize.

For example, I have an acquaintance whose parents named her Sarah because it means "God's Princess."  Sarah grew up to adopt children from Russia, South America and Africa.  One day as she and her girls were reading from Genesis, they came to the passage in which God changed Sarai's name to Sarah, promising that she would become the mother of many nations.  As she read the words, her oldest squealed, "Mommy, that's you!"  Her parents didn't know what her future would hold when they named her, but God did.

During the same challenge, a dear friend of mine researched her name and found that combined together, the three parts of her name mean strong, fair warrior--and she is!

Imagine, then, my delight when my research revealed that Mary means "Sea of Bitterness."

Sea of Bitterness.

How's that for a name?

The Mother of Jesus was named "Sea of Bitterness."  Really? 


This is the woman who, when told she was "chosen" to bear God's Son (no pressure there!) amidst scandal and great risk, she responded with a song of praise, declaring "blessed am I above all women."

If that isn't sweet, I don't know what is!

 I think I get it.

Perhaps the key is that although Mary's circumstances were bitter, she did not drown in a Sea of Bitterness because she chose praise instead.

Exodus 15 contains a biblical account of a REAL sea of bitterness, "Marah."

After the great Red Sea miracle, Moses led the Israelites into the desert of Shur.  For three days they went without water.  It was a pretty thirsty mob that arrived at the oasis of Marah, only to find the water too bitter to drink.

Moses faced a very cranky throng.

Wisely, he cried out to God for help.  The Lord showed Moses a piece of wood, which Moses threw into the water and (I love this part) the water became sweet.  My Bible says it was "good to drink."


Like Mary of Nazareth, I may encounter extremely bitter circumstances in my life.  I can grumble and complain like the Israelites and have only bitterness to drink, or, like Moses I can cry out to God.

I believe that Mary provides a beautiful picture of the "wood" God shows me to toss into the bitter water of circumstance.


"I am the Lord's Servant....May your word to me be fulfilled." (Luke 1:28)


My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed, 
for the Mighty One has done great things for me--holy is His name.
 (Luke 1:46-49)

If I trust that He is always good,

If I praise Him for His attributes and His gifts,

Then the water of my circumstances will become sweet

good to drink

life giving.

THAT is what's in my name.  I love it. 

Monday, December 19, 2011


611. Egg #3!

612. Misty haze over a sunny morning pasture.

613. Prophets in every generation.

614. At least two Ukrainian orphans coming to Orlando--Lord, help them find forever families!

615. Psalm 133:1 How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony.

616. Aspirin.

617. Fresh cilantro from my garden!

618. Homemade salsa.

619. Blossoms on the bean plants!

620.  New shoot of elephant garlic.

621.Watching my magician perform with confidence and personality.

622. Korean Santa: Too funny!

623.  Hay rides for high schoolers.

624.  Stirring words and melodies of worship written by my Songbird.

625. Happy Girl and Clive--so silly.

626. Workouts for Charlie.

627. New twists on foot photos.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

An Unlikely Story

During Advent we prepare for the coming of the Christ child. One would think that the obvious place to turn in the Bible during Advent preparation would be places like Luke, Matthew, or Isaiah. However, I am discovering this year that God began writing the Christmas story long before even Isaiah. Even more, in His story He demonstrates that He can take even what is ugly and broken and bring about beauty and restoration.....

Genesis 19: 31-32, 36-37 

 One day the older daughter said to her sister, “There are no men left anywhere in this entire area, so we can’t get married like everyone else. And our father will soon be too old to have children.  Come, let’s get him drunk with wine, and then we will have sex with him. That way we will preserve our family line through our father.”.... As a result, both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their own father. 

How is that for a heartwarming Christmas story? Can I just say YUCK?!

As stomach-turning as their sexual sin was, the deeper sin was their unbelief. They did not trust God to provide for them, so they acted in fear and took matters into their own hands.

(Sounds just a bit too familiar to me when you look at it that way!)

 When the older daughter gave birth to a son, she named him Moab. He became the ancestor of the nation now known as the Moabites. When the younger daughter gave birth to a son, she named him Ben-ammi. He became the ancestor of the nation now known as the Ammonites. 

By taking matters into their own hands, Lot's daughters achieved their short-term goal of having sons, but sin has consequences. The Moabite and the Ammonite people that resulted from this sin were generational enemies of Israel.

Not a good thing, to be on bad terms with God's chosen people.

The message is clear: Sin costs.


Look at how the Master Weaver shows us that even the most despicable sins can be redeemed.

Ruth 1:22 

...Naomi [an Israelite] returned from Moab, accompanied by her daughter-in-law Ruth, the young Moabite woman. 

A Moabitess, descendant of the sin of Lot's daughters, is redeemed by her mother-in-law's relative, a man named Boaz. Together they were the parents of Obed, who was the father of Jesse.

Isaiah 1:1-2

And a shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him—The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge of the fear of the LORD. 

Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, came from Boaz and Ruth.

But wait—it gets better. Ruth's side is only half of the story:

Joshua 6:25

So Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute and her relatives who were with her in the house, because she had hidden the spies Joshua sent to Jericho. And she lives among the Israelites to this day.  

You see, there was this prostitute in Jericho...

Lowliest of the lowly in that time, a woman....and a “harlot” at that, she recognized the Truth when she saw it. She recognized SOVEREIGNTY and feared the Lord more than her people. Because of her faith in Him, He not only spared her, He blessed her.

She lived among the Israelites and even may have married one--

Matthew 1: 5-6 
Salmon was the father of Boaz (whose mother was Rahab).

if this is indeed our Rahab, she married a man named Salmon. And God blessed her with a son

....named Boaz

…..who married Ruth

An Israelite and a Moabite.

What a creative, redemptive LORD we have!

In Ruth, God restored what was ruptured by Lot's daughters. He bound together people divided by centuries of enmity.

In Boaz, He redeemed not just the family of Naomi, but the past of Rahab.

For out of Boaz

out of Ruth

came the Ultimate Restoration. Immanuel. God with us.

 Boaz was the father of Obed (whose mother was Ruth).
 Obed was the father of Jesse.
 Jesse was the father of King David.... 

...16 Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.

Mary gave birth to Jesus, 
who is called the Messiah. 

How beautiful is that?


595.   Beautiful loaves of bread.

596.  Hot slices slathered with butter.

597. Pain free morning.

598.  Extra work--God provides.

599. The whole herd running through the field after the truck.

600.  Clueless but enthusiastic lab trying to help.

601. Excellent curriculum

602. Christmas cookies--and cookie dough!

603. Big ugly sweaters.

604. Raw peas--a taste of my childhood.


606. My faithful van:  117, 000 + and still going.  (Two more years, please!)

608. Car rides into town with just one of my kids.  (Doesn't matter which one...)

609. Heartbroken young mother who grieves well and offers the pieces of her shattered heart to God--for all the world to see.

610. Egg #2!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


542. God's perfect orchestration.  God using morning sickness to send the perfect "substitute" teacher to connect with two reluctant church goers.

543. Long Sunday naps.

544. Service responsibilities that help a young woman regain her shattered composure.

545. Long-awaited rain!

546. God's mercies, new every morning.

547. Herding cows by truck in the pouring rain.

548. Sunshine after the rain.

549.  Cows and calves grazing nearby. (I love watching them.)

550. Making "birthday pie" to celebrate my nearly-90 neighbor's big day.

551. My husband's has the power to make me feel 25 and adorable.

552. Freezer full of deer meat.

592. Encouragement and challenge from God's Word: "They cried out to Him during the battle, and He answered their prayer because they trusted in Him."

593. Frank the farm dog sneaking to wake the slumbering Songbird. (Dogs can tiptoe!)

594. Count down to Camille.

Monday, December 12, 2011


525. No need for Christmas gifts--I have been receiving them all year long.

526. Behives-so amazing!

527. Tiny infant queen bee creeping across a wax frame.

528.  Surprise sprout of elephant garlic. So that's where I planted it!

529. Slow, easy Saturdays.

530. Grocery money.

531.  Bright red flowers full of December nectar to feed the bees.

532. Extra virgin olive oil.

533. The whole family working together to get ready for a party.

534. Hungry boy after a morning of man-sized work.

535. The first Christmas cards coming in.

536. Nutella--this is beyond mere groceries!

537. Crazy brown dog, running along barking at the truck.

538. Colored Christmas lights outside.

539. Bonfire with friends.

540. Boy majority for a change!  Sweaty, loud game of manhunt.

541. Katie C., 6th grade mom to all toddlers.

Friday, December 9, 2011


508. My girls delighting in the smell of steer shampoo.

509. Katie fingerpainting on Kenny's flank.  Love notes to a steer.

510.  Cold night, crisp morning.

511. Garden tools.

512. A real pea!

513. Excited dogs as they leave for "work" with the Cowboy.

514. Warm sweaters.

515. Honesty from a child that opens my eyes to a frustration I've caused.

516. Repentance and forgiveness.

517. Clean counters.

518. Happy Girl, sharing from her journal a truth that God has revealed to her about how He weaves the tapestry of History.

519. Sun streaming through the windows warming our cold house.

520. Today's gift from the Psalms: "You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of Your presence and the pleasure of living with you forever."

521. Waking up to a clean kitchen. (Don't blink...)

522. A chance to see God provide--thanksgiving always precedes a miracle!

523. Seeing the farm through the eyes of a three-year-old--everything is a wonder.

524. Peeking in to check on the napping boy and finding him asleep on the floor all curled up next to the door.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

#491-507 Halfway to 1000!

491. My boy catching up to his dad in height.

492. Cool, sunny mornings.

493. Chickens dashing around the yard.

494. Indoor plumbing.

495. Homemade pralines.

496. Silly girls in the kitchen.

497. Purring cats.

498. Pouting farm dog when I won't let him chase chickens.

499. Evening devotions--reverence and laughter.

500. Warm blankets.

501. Foggy sunrise, drinking coffee outside.

502. Company "perks"--not to be taken for granted.

503. Cucumber "family" in my fridge, complete with faces.

504. Poinsettas.

505. Swamp full of cranes in the morning.

506. Stationary attachment for my bike so I can ride far without going anywhere!

507. Slow-paced days--let them be filled with focus and wonder!


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