Today's Joy Moment--Off he goes

I need to get caught up from the last few days (it's been a busy week), but today's TJM didn't really require words:

What was your joy moment?

Today's Joy Moment--"Just Kidding"

Bug was on his way out the door to school this morning when he turned around, with all the seriousness a first-grader can muster.

"Happy Birthday," he said.

I blinked in surprise in response.

Then he dropped his chin, peered up from under his lashes while the left corner of his mouth crept up into his characteristic crooked grin.

"Just kidding!" and he skipped off to the car.

I love seeing his sense of humor develop--and knowing that he's aware that my birthday is actually tomorrow!

5 Minutes for Faith--Blind Man's Bluff

My dad lost an eye recently due to an infection that wouldn't heal and three (yes 3!) corneal transplants that wouldn't heal. Now he's got macular degeneration in his remaining eye. His field of vision grows smaller and fuzzier almost by the day. So he's having to find new ways of navigating in a world that he can see less and less of.

My physical eyesight is ok (as much as it can be 'for my age'), but we're walking through one of those valleys (or, as Holley Gerth described today, an alley) that is rather narrow and kind of dark and next to impossible to see where the next footstep will fall. I can empathize with my dad's circumstances from a spiritual perspective. I blogged about it today at 5 Minutes for Faith. Would love it if you'd hop over and check it out.


Today's Joy Moment--A Listening Ear

Do you have days where you feel like no one really listens to you? (If you're a mom with small kids I know you do!) I have enough of them that I don't really pay much attention to the fact, but every once in a while, when someone really listens, it stands out.

Today was one of those days. Hubs was meeting with someone and I had the chance to stop by and say hello. I wasn't supposed to stay--I didn't intend to stay. But he asked a couple of well-timed, pointed questions and actually listened to my answers. It was lovely.

But even more than that (other writers will get this part especially), he asked specifically about projects I'm working on. And he got excited about them. And really engaged me in conversation about them. That was a big joy moment for me. Those moments tend to be isolated to the couple of writers conferences I go to every year (and it's months until the next one!). It was a unique pleasure to talk writing to someone who isn't part of that world, but was genuinely interested.

Has someone given you a sincere listening ear lately? What was your Joy Moment today?

Today's Joy Moment

Working on the first BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) lesson for the year.
Looking forward to getting to know Jesus better through the eyes of John.
Grateful that God, His love and His word are consistent even (especially?) when others/circumstances are not.
What was your joy moment today?

Today's Joy Moment

Saturday morning cartoon lap-time and wrestling with my 3 year old.

What's yours?

A Very Disney Life

How's life been treating you?

In the great amusement park of life, are you on the predictable ups and downs of a merry-go-round, or are you spinning like a tilt-a-whirl? Is your life a casual cruise around "It's a Small World," or, like mine, is it full of slow climbs, rapid drops and whiplash-inducing twists and turns of "Thunder Mountain?"

I have to say there's been a lot of that lately (and the older I get the less I like roller coasters!) But even when the floor drops out of my "Haunted Mansion," there are still moments of joy. And when life gets busy or difficult I don't notice them as much as I should.

I learned this about myself a few years ago when I was going through a rough patch. I decided to keep track of ways that I saw God's presence in my life. I wanted to be more mindful of Him on a day to day basis, even when I wasn't 'feeling it.' So I started to write down my observations every day. Eventually, I didn't have to sit and reflect to find proof of God in my life, I caught the moments as they happened.

If you follow my posting schedule at all lately, you'll probably be able to tell when I get overwhelmed or overscheduled and can't give my blog (or lots of other things) the attention I'd like to. The trials of the day consume my time and energy and I don't have enough left for the things I want to give it to. So, I'll keep going with my devotional/refreshmoments posts as I can, but I'm going to start something new.

I am going to try to do a "Today's Joy Moment" post. I won't commit to doing it every day, but I'll make a good effort.

And you're invited to join me. When you catch one of those little things that might slip by unrecognized, take note of it and post it here. Your observations will help me see different things that I can be grateful for and might encourage someone else too. And the best thing that comes from intentionally looking for the joy moment in each day? Soon it becomes a habit. And the more joy you notice, the more joyful you'll feel--even when life seems otherwise.
So, let's get started.

Today's Joy Moment

Watching my three year old hit the ball with his dad. No tee, just a simple pitch and a really good swing. His natural ability amazes me and his own delight at connecting with the ball is a total joy moment.

What was your joy moment today?

By Chance?

Sea dragon


Funny bottom-feeding fish that looks dead
but actually lies flat with eyes on his 'side.'

"Hammer-eyed" shark
(as my kids used to say)

All, courtesy 'primordial ooze.'


Fruit worth the thorns

(Warning--alliteration alert ahead. Sorry, I just couldn't help myself. It wasn't intentional, but the following post is fairly dripping with it!)

One of the highlights of our trip to the NW was a quintessential small-town evening at a farm on Sauvie Island.

In the summer, the fields are full of fruits and flowers. And on this particular July evening, there was a bluesy band performing under the pergola while people picnicked on the lawn.

It was an enchanting evening; just warm enough to be comfortable. The farm was beautiful in the dwindling daylight. We got to spend the evening with dear friends we hadn't seen in more than two years.

The kids had a blast running up and down the rows of sunflowers,

dancing to music so old it's new again,
and raiding the berry bushes for the remnants of the raspberries.

I have always LOVED raspberries. I think heaven will be filled with delights we can't begin to imagine, but I think raspberries will be on the menu too.

One of the things that puts them in my 'semi-precious berry' category is the effort it takes to collect them. They're small and delicate, requiring a gentle touch when plucking from the vine.

And then there's the thorns. They're kind of tiny too, when compared, say to rose thorns. But dang, those things are plentiful and pokey. I think the berries are all the more prized as a reward for the wounds suffered in the quest. The quantity collected is often in direct proportion to the tolerance of scratching.

So imagine my delight when I discovered these particular berry fields contained thornless raspberries! Who knew?! It made it easier to set my kids loose knowing I wasn't going to deplete my bandaid stash patching them up. Even so, I still tended to approach the bushes gingerly; as though there were sneaky thorns hiding, just waiting for their chance to snag me.

Sometimes I approach people like I did those bushes. It isn't pleasant to encounter prickly people (I know I am guilty of being that way too). Once wounded, it's natural to avoid a repeat, even with the promise of something delectable. So even if the pokey parts aren't visible, I keep my distance, gingerly moving around to prevent getting snagged.

Even when the thorns stick right out where they can be seen, they may be protecting something sweet and precious. Like a young raspberry start, people aren't born with thorns. They develop over time--often to guard the tender fruit that would otherwise be subject to pests and predators. By offering genuine care and friendship, it's possible to transform the prickly person into one that offers all the sweetness without the hazards.

I want to make the effort to see the unique gift of each person; to risk a poke here and there when I can see thorns and harvesting wholeheartedly when offered the fruit of true friendship.

Summer Pudding
This is one of the simplest desserts ever, but it's ohhh so yummy! (And relatively healthy even!) It's the perfect thing for these last lazy days of summer when the fruit is at its finest and you want something that highlights their sweet deliciousness without a lot of fussing or pretense.

10 to 12 slices fine textured white bread
2 quarts (8 cups) mixed fresh fruit (or thawed frozen fruit)
2 cups sugar (approx. 1/4 cup for each cup of fruit)

Rinse fruit under cold water, remove any stems or unripe fruit and drain well. Over low heat, mix fruit and sugar, stirring gently until sugar is dissolved and juice is formed. Set aside to cool.

Remove crusts from bread slices. Trim one piece into circle to fit bottom of 2-quart deep bowl or charlotte or pudding mold. Fit other slices of bread around sides of bowl, not overlapping, but not leaving any gaps.

When fruit has cooled, spoon a little of the juice over bottom of mold. Carefully fill the mold with the fruit, and pour the rest of the juice into the mold.

Cover top of fruit with remaining slices of bread cut to fit the bowl. Fit a flat plate or saucer inside top edge of mold, resting on the pudding. Place a heavy can or weight on top. Refrigerate overnight.

To unmold, carefully run a thin knife around the inside of the mold, and turn onto a serving plate. Slice and serve with lots of fresh whipped cream and more berries/fruit.

An encouraging word

A couple of weeks ago I took the boys to the train museum to meet up with friends we haven't seen in a long time. I wanted to have a good visit with her while our four boys were entertained with train rides and handcar excursions and train stuff, but it was one of those days where the mischief (of mine) outweighed the merriment and was wearing me down.

As we toured the sleeper and dining cars, Bug rushed ahead and we got separated as another family climbed in behind him. Boo was chomping at the bit to catch up, but I was trying to get him to stay with me. Have you seen the narrow aisles on a train? The group ahead of us was an elderly couple and their adult son--who walked with a limp.

I dreaded the outcome of Boo crashing through the train, knocking his good leg from under him and setting the older folks a-wobbling.

"Your children are beautiful," said the man as he tried to inconspicuously grasp the seat to keep from being toppled by my tots.

"Sometimes I wish their attitudes matched their appearance," I replied with a sigh.

He watched them dart around, "They made my day," he smiled.

He departed, pausing to thank the docent for his hospitality (as he had all the others as well) while I tried to keep them from crashing into the tables of rare railway china. But his comment stayed with me. Honestly, I think he was far too kind under the circumstances. But in an otherwise exasperating day, his remarks were a bright spot nonetheless.

I posted at 5 Minutes for Faith recently and shared another experience where someone expressed a kind thought that was the exact opposite of how I was feeling at the moment. Both of these experiences have me thinking...there are so many times when I think something positive or complimentary about someone but I keep it to myself.

I don't know why, exactly.

Maybe a bit of residual fear of talking to strangers. Maybe reluctance to get caught up in a greater conversation when I really only want to comment and run.

Seeing our train friends' kind smile and his expressed delight in my children when they were anything BUT delightful at the moment helped relieve some of the tension I was feeling. Which led to a better day for all of us.

I'm sure he's gone on and doesn't remember the moment at all. Maybe he's the kind of guy who says so many kind things to so many people that he wouldn't remember our incident from all the others.

But I do.

And the next time something kind occurs to me, I hope I can overcome my shyness or insecurity and just say it. It's a really small way to 'pay it forward.'

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