Monday, April 30

a "heart" issue

Myth: your heart only has certain amount of space to love others

After having my first baby, my heart was full. When I found out I was pregnant again, I wrestled with how I could love another child as much. What a surprise to find that indeed it was possible! In fact, it was a wonderful discovery with each pregnancy - from first to the current last - that the love story began the moment I had a positive pregnancy test. And that was only the beginning, for each child has expanded my heart even more with their uniqueness as I've watched them grow up.

Then as your children grow up, they find spouses who bless your life and suddenly your heart grows a bit more! And with those relationships come grandbabies....oh dear, that deserves a paragraph of its own.

Someone recently asked me if having grandchildren felt any different since our own family still had littles - did grandchildren just feel like an extension of our family? In a sense, they are an extension of our family....BUT....OH MY!....grandchildren take over a totally different section of one's heart. It is an unimaginable kind of love that truly does feel like a cup overflowing :-) And once again, your heart grows some more.

And, of course, you can't forget the commitment of a long term marriage and the love that develops through many trials. There are deep roots and a tenderness within your heart that is unlike any of the other loves.

Oh, and friends! Old friends who you haven't talked to in years, but can pick up a conversation in a moment. Close friends who you've laughed with, cried with, prayed with. New friends who are stretching your horizons. Love.

The truth is your heart EXPANDS with each relationship. Love grows and stretches your heart to new dimensions. Wouldn't it be a testimony of love if someday you died, had an autopsy done, and your family was told, "We've never seen anything like this! This woman's heart filled her entire chest cavity!" :-)

Go and plant some love in your garden today - you'll be abundantly blessed by it!

Blessings,
Tammy ~@~


Sunday, April 29

a sunny day to worship

"Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly!"
~Psalms 149:1

What a beautiful day to worship the Lord! Let us rejoice as we gather to worship this day!

Saturday, April 28

quiet planning

"It is when things are quiet that we become aware of minutes that tick slowly by. Then we have opportunity, perhaps, to think of their deeper significance in the light of eternity." ~ Elisabeth Elliot

When one is traveling, there is no choice but to slow down. To sit still. To ponder life while others are napping along the trail. And coming from a life of fullness and busyness, it is surprising to see how long it takes to unwind one's mind to a point of meditation. Imagine thinking of ONE thing at at time instead of several things at once. It is more challenging than you think for some of us! And yet, how important to periodically take the time to ponder life in the view of eternity.

If thought of in a gardening context, it is a good idea to take time to think ahead and plant some perennials in different areas. Maybe some raspberry bushes that will grow and multiply and produce much fruit. Or a peony bush that will fill in a corner and produce sweet smelling flowers. Or how about that much talked about apple orchard? All of those take forethought and planning in order to be productive in the long run.

So, as we look at our own little gardens, it is necessary to occasionally stop and take a moment to access what character traits in each child need a bit more planting, tending, or even pruning in order to have long term results which would bring glory to the Lord's work while on this earth. And to remember we can do nothing without abiding in the Lord ourselves. "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." ~ John 15:5

Plant for the future!

Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Friday, April 27

once there was a little kitty

Toward the end of the school year, each week after their spelling tests are completed the children can pick their own poems instead of reciting the ones from their spelling books. We have a large book of family poetry that they look through. Today as one child was paging through the book, their choice was "The Three Little Kittens". I vetoed it saying that the choice had to be one we hadn't heard before and to keep looking as I knew there were other poems about cats. So, this was the result and I'm sorry to say there was no author listed.

Kitty

Once there was a little Kitty
Whiter than snow;
In a barn she used to frolic,
Long time ago.

In the barn a little mousie
Ran to and fro;
For she heard the Kitty coming,
Long time ago.

Two eyes had little Kitty,
Black as a sloe;
And they spied the little mousie,
Long time ago.

Four paws had little Kitty,
Paws soft as dough,
And they caught the little mousie,
Long time ago.

Nine teeth had little Kitty,
All in a row;
And they bit the little mousie,
Long time ago.

When the teeth bit little mousie,
Little mousie cried, "Oh!"
But she got away from Kitty,
Long time ago.

I don't know if it was the child who read it, the rhythm that they used, the inflections they used, our odd sense of humor, or WHAT(!), but we all burst out in laughter after it was finished! Perhaps I should preview poems before they read them out loud? NAW! :-)

"....but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast." ~ Proverbs 15:15b

May you be feasting in your garden today!

Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Thursday, April 26

three flower shops

What could be more glorious than visiting three flower shops in one day on a spring day! :-D

One: My first stop was to pick up a gift certificate for someone at church at a local garden center. Oh, it was wonderful to browse through all the gardening supplies and furniture and planters and signs and bird feeders and hanging this and that AND the greenhouse with all the flowers! In order to purchase the gift certificate, I needed to go into the indoor gift area where a friend works. She was delighted to show me the Vera Bradley collection which she has been talking about for some time. I, um, quite easily bought for myself one of the smaller bags that was on sale. Perhaps I can recommend the accessories for it to my children when they ask me about a Mother's Day gift? :-D

Two: My second stop was to pick up a bouquet of fresh flowers to be dropped off at church. Tall, colorful, and scented. It was fun to be the delivery person a few minutes later and brighten someone else's day :-)

Three: My third stop was this afternoon when I went to my favorite florist to finalize a wedding order for our oldest daughter's upcoming wedding. She had several of the flowers in stock which will be the type used in the bouquets and arrangements plus we reviewed the pictures and styles that my daughter had chosen. Oh, they will be so pretty! And isn't there something wonderful about the scents flowing through a florist shop. I'm glad I'm not a sneezer!

As much as I love the scent of flowers, more importantly would be to share my love for Christ through His fragrance in my life. A perfect Scripture comes to mind:

"But thanks be to God! For through what Christ has done, he has triumphed over us so that now wherever we go he uses us to tell others about the Lord and to spread the Gospel like a sweet perfume. As far as God is concerned there is a sweet, wholesome fragrance in our lives. It is the fragrance of Christ within us, an aroma to both the saved and the unsaved all around us." ~II Corinthians 2:14-15

Be a fragrant offering in your home today!

Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Wednesday, April 25

as simple as a spoon-rest

The other day as I was cleaning off my stovetop, I pulled everything off that sits along the top edge wanting to give it all a good cleaning. Then as I cleaned up the burner areas, I put the spoon-rest into the soapy water in the sink to soak awhile. Once everything was sparkling again, I grabbed the spoon-rest out of the sink, rinsed it, and as I was drying it whoosh! it flew out of my hands and hit the tile floor. Crack! It was broken in two! And for a split second my heart broke in two.

For you see, that spoon-rest wasn't any ordinary spoon-rest. Many years ago when I was a young mother with many littles, my mom would often stop by and lend a hand where I needed it. Often it would be around lunch time and she'd help prepare something on the stove. Alas, I never had a spoon-rest and the telltale sign my mom had been there was a small plate sitting on the center of the stove where she'd set a ladle or spatula. One day she brought me a spoon-rest I fell in love with.....it was of a clear molded plastic and had beautiful wildflowers within it. And it has graced my stovetop ever since that day, although it had grown very yellowed and the flowers were hard to distinguish. But still, it was one of the few things I have from my mom in my kitchen.

It amazes me how after more than two years my heart can, in a moment, grieve all over again.

And yet, all was not broken. For left behind was a treasure that she planted in me - to be a loving mother beyond the walls of my own home as I bless my own children when they are in the midst of the busy child-rearing years. To love and serve. And snuggle my grandbabies whenever possible for that was a job she could be declared an expert!

Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Tuesday, April 24

building creativity

Today one of the younger ones had a Bible lesson on creativity which was defined as "responding to the world in my own special way". There were a series of activities that had to be done and it was interesting to see how this child did do things in her own special way and in ways I wouldn't have thought of :-)

Then over our lunch hour I was browsing through the newest Timberdoodle catalog that had come in the mail. In it was a *new* child sized Lego set with 84 bricks. The description read: "Made from a unique pliable material, Lego Soft is safe, quiet, durable and washable." Having had zillions of legos in our house forever, their selling point for me was this, "And because no Lego Soft brick has sharp edges, you will find that they are not as painful to step on at night!" Woo hoo! Ohhh, how many of those have I stepped on with my barefeet through the years? Too many to count! Unfortunately my crew of boys have grown too old for this new set....perhaps when there's a crew of grandboys someday?

But how could I measure the amount of creativity that continues to pass through our home with all the zillions of legos? Literally hours upon hours upon hours! In fact every Christmas we fill our entire living room with our homemade Lego Town and it becomes highly competitive as we design our homes (and I do mean *we* as I enjoy it as much as the kids!)

So here's to planting a little creativity in our homes today!

Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Monday, April 23

got it?

Another wonderful thing about spring is all the spring catalogs that arrive in our mailbox: garden and seed, homeschooling, and clothing in *my* favorite colors! With a new season comes the change of season clothes for the kids and as usual those children went and grew taller on me! How does that happen so quickly?! Unfortunately we also seasonally run into the frustration of not finding clothing in the stores for growing children which is modest enough. So, out come the kids catalogs and littles who are pointing to almost everything saying, "Got it! Got it! Got it!" before their sibling picks the same thing.

As I was thinking about their childish ways, it hit me that I could so easily do the same thing. How about sitting down with a friend and looking through a Pampered Chef catalog and saying, "Got it! Got it! Got it!" before my friend did. Or running around a scrapbook store or quilt shop and yelling, "Got it! Got it! Got it!" before anyone else claimed anything. It does make me laugh at the thought as it is so ridiculous, ahhh, but with a hint of truth.

Fortunately the reality is that both my children and I know we don't need all those things to be happy. In fact, as much as I LOVE fabric right now I have an entire storage room filled with boxes and boxes of fabric which I inherited from my mom and the abundance can be a burden at times. Stuff doesn't equal happiness.

Recently I ran across a quote that puts an interesting twist on thankfulness: "If you haven't all the things you want, be grateful for the things you don't have that you didn't want." - Anonymous

Ah, gratefulness! Hoping to plant some more gratefulness in my family's hearts today :-)

Sunday, April 22

spring

It seems appropriate to launch this blog during my favorite season of the year - SPRING! Of course, I do need to remind myself that although the calendar may say it is spring, winter can still be a snowflake away. Yet, there's a feeling in the air as the days lengthen and the temperatures rise that indeed spring is here :-)

There's so many things I love about spring, but I think my favorite part is the return of so many talkative singing birds. It's a delight to wake up in the morning to the sound of birds chattering outside and during the day the woods are alive with activity by a variety of birds. It seems that even God delights in them and allows them to grace his altars:

"How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of Hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise!" ~Psalm 84:1-4

This morning when I woke up there was an unknown bird in a tree close to our bedroom window. It's song was "tweeeeeeet tweet tweet" and it was nice to listen to....but it went on and on, then moved to a lower pitch. The annoyance moved me out of bed and into the kitchen to start some coffee, but first the dogs needed to go out. As I let them out, it was easy to hear that there were several birds outdoors singing that same song. Hmmm, I wonder if our murmuring and complaining and grumbling sounds like that to our Heavenly Father? Perhaps it's often the same song, but a different pitch? It was a good reminder to me not to get caught up in that, but to instead follow the words of the Psalm and to sing a joyful song of praise which would be pleasing to the ears of my Heavenly Father.

And isn't it wonderful to receive confirmation of God's Word as a few hours later our pastor preached on "Be Glad" from Acts 2:24-28. Because of who God is we can be glad no matter what the circumstances....He is always before us on the paths of life.

So here's to spring! And here's to singing songs of praise!
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