Hope does more than float…it sinks.

(Not as romantic as hope floats? I know , and if you have never seen the movement of spray foam watch the video here and experience it so you can understand how I see hope work! )

They say hope floats.  I hope they’re wrong.

It does more than float. I say hope is more like insulation foam-the spray kind.                                                     spray foam 2

Hope first noticed seems to bubble up, released from somewhere once hidden. Yet it seems to expand and have weight to a situation. Like the process of insulating with spray foam. When the spray nozzle is released to insulate with spray foam  and saturates every splintery flaw, every gap, enters and fills every crevice. Hope let loose covers then spreads and spills over. Hope sets free while locking in faith; insulating faith in seasons that freeze. Hope insulates hearts with humility, grace , integrity during seasons that fly icy arrows of insult.  Hope will set into place a process to preserve, proof that God equips us, gifts us a way to persevere. When we persevere and allow hope to fill, foam, spread and overflow we can go beyond just the maintain and move into sustain.

Isaiah 43 shouts the voice of  Hope itself and God says ” you are precious to me, you are honored and I love you…do not be afraid for I am with you.”  If a situation in your life seems hopeless, I urge you to Hope more. I urge you to read, speak, study God’s  life-giving word more because when God enters a room it fills with hope. When Jesus hangs out with the hopeless they become honored and precious.

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(photo credit Stauffer’s Nook)

God’s voice fills in all the cracks, insulates against any insult and gives power to the process called life. His voice of Hope  promotes learning in the long, hard times and teachings that transformation so much so that we can even find treasure in tragedy. This gift of Hope, this treasure of Jesus is a gift that sinks. It is not floating lifeless or weak. Hope is not  easily tossed by every  wayward wave but an anchor that steadies so we can be steady. It is deep and actively holding, hope holds. Hold onto hope. Hold onto Jesus.

We can serve through any storm, filled with expansive hope because Jesus hold us, anchors us. The storms come in all forms, shapes, sizes, length so go ahead and enter the name of your storm here…but shout louder the name of Jesus. Claim your treasure and hold to HOPE.   Hebrews 6 tells of the treasure, shouts of the strong steadiness of Jesus, of the binding promises of God.

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“God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would NEVER change his mind. So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the HOPE that lies before us. This is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.”  (Hebrews 6:17-19)

We can serve through the storm, filled with expansive hope because Jesus holds us, anchors us. Let’s love, Let’s serve and persevere with joy because we are steady, we are steadfast, we are strengthened by hope. We can be lead strengthened all the way to the throne room. The in-filling of hope leads to the inner sanctuary of the Holy. “It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.” (vs. 19)

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Hang on to Hope and nail pierced hands will shift perception; it will separate the storms thick fog.  The in-filling leaves us whole even when life shatters, and Jesus the trustworthy anchor avails himself to any depth and pulls you up out of dark into deep intimacy with in that inner sanctuary. The in-filling that insulates us now surrounds us and we can cling to the one that clung to the cross. We have this forever promise that when we let hope fill , when we let Jesus in the place of sovereignty we get intimacy. The throne room of God. We are welcomed and honored there. We are called loved and precious there…to Him who sits on the throne.

Maybe it’s not that hope floats–it’s that it makes us float. Hope makes us fly…to our Father’s arms.  His arms that have waited, give an endless weighted embrace, anchoring any that claim the savior that steadies a heart hungry for hope.

FLY…Father Loves You….photo2photo1

All butterfly pictures have been contributed by the incredibly talented Wanda Stauffer. Please check out more of her photography in  the cozy corner of amazing captures at Stauffer’s Nook

The Steeping Season

The water had reached it’s boiling point.  I hear the teapots mad whistle, insane pitch of releasing steam and I think I’m twin to the boiling point of a teapot. I pour the potential to scald into my glass mug and use the heat to steep the fragrant shriveled leaves and herbs.  Sitting in a silk pouch is my favorite blend of Earl Grey grandeur and I remember to breathe…deep. The rapid boil begins to slow. I’m new at this, slowing down.  I watch a light amber color escape, fragrance escape from the beautifully crafted silk pouch and  I recognize I’m twin to the tea bag too. I’m in a steeping season.

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I take in another wiff, and linger. I see the soaking, the hot water allows the dried tea to release, unfurl and flavor the water it surrounds. I watch previously poured amber honey melt together with the cinnamon colored tea. I push the button on the camera of my heart and I urge myself to remember the sweet.  Life scalds, the process of unlocking flavor to all that you surround hurts, but there is always sweet. There has to be. When hot stress is all around in a steeping season there will be sweet. I declare it to myself.

Just as the honey doesn’t’ melt away to oblivion, neither will the sweet moments in life during the hard seasons. The sweet just needs searched out. 

 

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The tea is ready. I know by the color. Isn’t that what I’m after is a life full of color? I have eyes to see but what have I been looking at? It’s possible to miss a hundred glimpses of beauty in a day because I only looked in the dark, dealt with the bad and didn’t hone in on the holy. How can I profess to know God if I spend more time with the thoughts, the view, the negativity, whining, anger that are so NOT Him? I shudder from the winter parts of my heart as  the realization that a steeping season just might save my life.  I take a sip and hold the warm of the mug cupped close in my hand. I’m trying to pull all the warmth out so my heart can defrost long enough to really get what God is teaching me in this moment, steeping me in this season so I unfurl with flavor and color the world around me. Tomorrow is more snow on snow and under that is ice, and there maybe more ice to come.  As I sip my royal grey I wonder what a disservice it is to only see the gray a season brings.

DSCN4454Could I so easily forget the glitter that snow becomes in the sun? Is wintry beauty lost on me…the prisms caught in the icicles intensely displaying rich rainbows, the laughter of my children when they first run out to the pillowy freezing fluff?DSCN4450 DSCN4467

How many days do I miss the tenacity of the last leaf on our tree blatently blazen rusty red and refusing to let go? It’s all there, all for me if I allow it in. 

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 Winter is long, winter is cold, winter is not my favorite season. Yet winter is boldly beautiful all on it’s own and it makes you work for it’s admiration and wasn’t anything worthwhile always worth the work? I smile. I may just get this grasping the good yet. Tomorrow there is going to be more snow and I ache for Spring but we will celebrate with warmth, and a roast, and gooey goodness of cookies and cocoa. Yes, our fingers will be frostbitten and our business will have yet another day of no sales, but we will all be around the dinner table and my heart will be full and I will see the beauty of each moment. I will drink in the sweet with such hunger that I will do it the next day and the next. I will praise God that He allowed this steeping season and I may just celebrate even without Spring. Every season can’t be spring but every season gives reason for my heart to spring in praise, ring out loud songs of praise for the One who creates it all, all the earth and all the people. All the good is God. I will bubble up the good of the day from the depths of the day and I will see God. teabubbles

 

I take another sip, savor and search out the sweet. There it is! The honey! It’s so rich and balances the notes of pungent bergamot. It’s key really, the searching.

DSCN4497 The desperation to find beauty in the blizzard of this life. To find something that will make us see God’s face in those we love, those we serve everyday and yet we forget they are the very beauty of God. I search there face for what went wrong, who did what, and I yell why did you do that?!  I don’t search out the sweet, I spit in there face with the steam of my boiling point reached anger and nothing feels sweet.  Can I learn to do this? Can I search for the good instead of letting it all get to me? I have to. I must. I will. It’s in the searching that joy is the sweetest, that it’s the most treasured , that it stays. Maybe because I’m setting out to do it with passion, purpose that I will intentionally capture the communion with God in the everyday moments. Do you long for that? I long to see and meet and sup with God everyday and I’m meeting more with laundry, dishes and keeping company with frustration and disappointment. I need to keep better company. 

 

I see that this can be the best yet. This season of stress can scald me into surrender and I can seek out the sweet instead of zooming in on all that’s gone sour. I look in my cup and I  see the steeping of me. I’m going to allow the heat, the refining fire, to unfurl my dried leaves and release flavor.  Who wants a tasteless life anyway? I chose not to let another sweet -steeped -beauty-moment pass in vain. I want to savor and soak even when it scalds. Savor and hunt down the sweet. Want to go hunting with me? 

 

Sipping on this as I sip on tea today: 

2 Cor. 6:1 ” …we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it.”

 

Welcome to…

Welcome guest writer  Kristin Boyd to Words With Reason! When life gave her lemons she turned it into the funny, inspiring and clever blog “The Laid-Off Diaries”. Kristin has a fresh way of relating and reaching the reader.  She puts zest  in the daily duties of life! I hope you will join me in reading the latest of the wonderful writer’s wacky observations.  And if you like what you read consider voting for her  HERE for Best Freelance Writer in the  Best of Berks 2013 voting poll.  She definitely deserves to be the reigning champ!  Enjoy and may it bring a smile to your day as you decide to Chose Joy!  Read on:  Quote of the Week ….

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From Tattered, Torn and Ravaged to Lavished and Loved

 

“She’s torn!” And as soon as the tone of this sad declaration hits my ears I know it’s the sound of something bigger than me. Something I can’t fix.

“I wasn’t doing anything, honest…I just was loving her and she broke.”  My daughter hands me her doll,  a doll that Grandma made uniquely for her.  The moment was etched on my heart  when she opened the package containing Miss Muffins that day….that birthday.  Joy was all over her face.  I remember Tatum pulling her out with care and admiring each stitch; pausing to lovingly linger her hand over the doll’s features.   Lavished her love on her new treasure…

 

Love Lavishes.  Love  Lingers

Love Lavishes. Love Lingers

Features that are now tattered and torn.

Life does that doesn’t it? Has a way of making us tattered and torn. A way of being ravaged when we thought we were being loved…or loving.   When well meaning women critically chatter and chisel a soft heart that heard.  When moms mutter mad and little- men –to- be have moist eyes because of the hurt that was heard.  When husbands are put down because emotions were pent up.

When friends weren’t forever…even when the Lord is the Lord of them?

When that moment happens and we become orphans of our expectations, and  we didn’t mean to, we were just loving but we broke.  Can it be true that in YOU the orphan finds mercy? (Hosea 14  The Message)

What then?   What now?   What’s next?

These are the questions in every Mamma’s tears and fragile joy. These are the cries of lonely children waiting for real love to rise up and show them the way. This is the plea for every lost soul that was atleast once lost but now found by grace…amazing grace.

What now for ravaged dreams and hopes worn weary?  What’s next for orphans and widows of love shattered, hurt and bruised from words misused? What’s left for the precious widows of war, adultery, divorce or disillusionment?  A women ravaged by the realities of this world ?

And my heart beats faster at the thought of not What but Whom….Lavish Love Lingers.

Patiently Love lingers His hand on the features of us that He himself knit.  We are His treasure.

“I didn’t mean to…can you help me fix her?”  I attend to my daughter’s tense request and look at the carefree damage done.  Miss Muffins could use Grandma’s loving care and knowledge…hands that know how to mend…know how this doll was wonderfully made and knit together.

All is Grace with Grandma's and God.

Can you fix her?

I didn’t mean to is so common place a plea that should unify our hearts in common humility and grace not judgement.

Pure and genuine love  in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress (James 1:26-27)   

 

Still I wonder- what in the world did she do? How did this doll come apart like that?

But all is grace with Grandma’s and God.  With some  instruction  by both I give grace and fix the tattered and torn but loved.

But all is Grace with Grandma's and God

But all is Grace with Grandma’s and God

“I will love free I will love them freely, for My anger is turned away” and  ““I will heal their waywardness.
I will love them lavishly” (Hosea 14 The Living Bible and The Message, respectively)so shouldn’t I love in this way?

The Art of Being a Big Brother

It was one of those mornings where coffee was not the only thing brewing.  Beastly internalized burdens were brewing beneath the surface. The surface of the smiling little sister being brave.  And in this misleading mellow off we went to school.

Then the floodgates burst and the burden couldn’t remain bolstered any longer. “My belly hurts…bad!”

                                         Oh, no, not the stomach bug going around. I do not want that , Lord, no!

But then…We witnessed a panic from our normally peaceful princess that broke our hearts and showed brokenness in hers. We never saw her so fragile and flustered and frazzled. What could be so terrible…so gut twisting that all she can tell is “It hurts…it aches!”

When all was fine and figured out that morning a belly ache was really a brother ache. For the first time ever her beloved big brother was in a different school building. Her Dad and I looked at each other and the light went on.

So we prayed. We prayed against the bullying of fear and not a stomach bug.  She went on with this day, not sure where  it would go  and left with my heart.

The World Needs Big Brothers

The World Needs Big Brothers (The Art of Being a Brother , by Cameron McCray age 10)

“Why, why would you be so sad I’m not at your school this year?” My eldest son asks his little and only sister.

He asks her this at dinner when she is most comfortable to tell the tale of her day. A day that for her was filled with worry. Filled with not

the unknown but of the on-her-own.

“Because Bubby.” Pausing , not wanting to admit her heart misses him so. My heart smiles with the knowledge his face gives way that

heartstrings were played at the mention of loving nicknames.

“Bubby” is reserved for love. “Bub” however, means business.

"It is ok sister"

“It is ok sister” (The Art of Being a Big Brother by Tatum McCray age 8)

She continues, “Because, I just want to know you are there.” And her voice trembles and her eyes are heavy, burdened. So is my heart.

Cameron sighs.  A sigh signifying struggle.  A battle between loyalty to little sisters means open-fire with friends.

Being a big brother bears a big burden, but God promises His yoke is easy and His burden is light Light into a dark world.

The world needs more Big Brothers.

Not the kind that hide behind surveillance cameras.

The world needs Big brothers that are brother’s in arms, brave and protective, burden bearers, light bearers, lighten-the-load-bearing-gentlemen, virtuous and men of their word using The Word.

"The Final Battle" (The Art  of Being a Big Brother by Cameron McCray , age 10)

“The Final Battle” (The Art of Being a Big Brother by Cameron McCray , age 10)

Big brother Cameron sighs heavy and deep. He says, “I’ll sit next to you on the bus” and it’s a beautiful sacrifice.

This year was his year.  The oldest in the peculiar pecking order of elementary status.  As the oldest represented grade on the bus

the back seats belonged to him and his buddies.  He chose to sacrifice it. “My yoke is easy, my burden is light.”

Beautiful burden bearing , the lead setting the stage for his younger brothers success. He ,with one spoken promise, lays down the heavy

and picks up the light. It shines all over our family.   “…...My burden is light.

It touches every one of us, releasing the grip of achy worry worn on my mommy  heart.  HIS burden is light.

Releasing the worry wrinkles on Daddy’s apple holders.  HIS yoke is easy.  And I see the little one, the little sister.  She bore the burden the deepest and she…. is…. light.

Matthew 11:29-30 (EXB)

29 ·Accept my teachings [L Take my yoke upon you] and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in ·spirit [heart], and you will find rest for your ·lives [souls; Jer. 6:16]. 30 ·The burden that I ask you to accept [L …because my yoke] is easy; ·the load I give you to carry  and my burden is light.”

The Deeply Rooted Legacy of Joseph Thayer McCray

Grandpa's Flowers

Joseph Thayer McCray….

 

Our Grandpa…a Grand man…husband, father, farmer, friend.

Always living and loving in a manner where faith and family are first.  A Papa who set a pattern of

Diligence, who daily lived out whispered wisdom: If you’re honest in small things, you’ll be

honest in big things (Luke 16:10)

Fatherless at the early age of 11 still full of faith. He held to promises of a heavenly Father:  A Father

of the fatherless and a judge and protector of the widows is God in His holy habitation.

(Psalm 68:5)

He chose to anchor his life into deepness. He grabbed onto deep things like generosity, kindness….love.

So. Much. love.

So when hard times came He could dig into the deep and spring a well. Pull up fruit not

easily shaken or taken. May Christ through your faith actually dwell (settle down, abide,

make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded

securely on love.(Ephesians 3:17)

Deep love for God, deep love for others… We all loved the deepness in his voice.

Farmers work in the deep…deep dew of the early morning. The deep muck and mire and produce life

giving products. Farmers work parallel to the heartbeat of God… Therefore, my beloved brethren,

be firm (steadfast), immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,

knowing and being continually aware that your labor in the Lord is never wasted. (1 Cor. 15:58)

Farming…a lifestyle that made him steadfast in times of plenty and times of want…always greeting life

with gratitude, encouraging people with quite confidence. Steadfast to his beloved Eleanor for 67

years, immovable love, abounding and abiding. Steadfast love with ” labor that is never wasted

and raised up two bouncing boy blessings and a rose named Sharon. Raising them up on tall shoulders

, as all good fathers do, so they could go further than he ever could. Raising them by grounding them in

those deep roots of faith and of family.

All of this shaped our beloved Grandpa Moo; dairy farmer, bus driver, Sunday school teacher, father,

grandfather, great-grandfather. And all of this shaped us. Is still shaping us.  Shaping a legacy deeply rooted in

discipline…deeply rooted in love….deeply rooted in PRAYER.

Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, fenced in and hidden, which you do not know. (Jeremiah 33:3)

Prayer is the deepest established root of his branch on the family tree…powerful promises between a

man and God. Promises spoken and believed over his family…each member, each day. The power of

prayer– It is a forever gift. God’s word living over each one of us…a faithful God blessing a faithful

man’s family. ” But I will show faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love me and follow my

commandments. ” (Exodus 20:6)

It is living in the children ,the grand and great. It’s easily seen as God has purposely

painted remembrances of Grandpa’s smile and joy in them. It’s an honorarium heard in the soft

melodies of the voices in the McCray men. Familiar echoes of him can be seen in the hands and ears

of my children. Holding my youngest really means still holding a piece of him…“I’m setting up my

covenant with you including your children who will come after you…(Genesis 9:8)”

Holding them, holding each other…holds on to him.

 

We will have all of eternity to hold on to love because of what Joseph Thayer McCray held onto.

 

Joseph means “He will add”. Thayer means “soldier, or army of the nation”. McCray means “son of

grace and prosperity.” God threading his life through the meaning of his name…spoken words giving life

like the spoken words of a prayer.

 

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Building a Boy

 

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I am watching my son build Legos and the Legos begin to build a man.

 

Each intentionally placed block locked into place by a logical, analytical mind.

image (7) image (8) photo (48) photo (49)My heart sees the man that will be…. taking shape before my misty eyes.

As each fine motor skill steadies to finish brick-block beauty, I receive flashes of chubby fingers, a fine feast of cheeks and soft, irresistible ears.  I watch, wistfully. Caught

off-guard by the nostalgia happening in the moment.  I watch those hands, shape Lego

destinies. I hear directives given and see little brother Cian carry them out.

 

I see hands that prayed for that brother to exist, arms that held that answer to prayer.

 

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My eldest, once -my -only……. a foreman, a sometimes patient teacher, a protector.   All in this moment of squares, sequenced and colored. 

 

The picture builds within me of the shaper God intended him to be.

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photo (50)He builds Legos  now; he will move mountains in moments to come, powerful

 

moments, life-changing and life-giving moments.

 

Moments that will come too soon.

 

 
And I am comforted and confident by the God who holds all plans, all building up of little boys to

men. The God who shapes, who fills any gap where grace wasn’t given. The God who fills the boy

and the Mom he trusted that boy to.

 

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More was built today, immeasurably more than I could ever imagine. And secured were moments and promises laid in a foundation of a concrete God.

 

And those promises will never be broken. (Exodus 20:6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.)

A walk and a promise

 

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Today is Saturday. 12 years ago it was a Saturday. It was the most beautiful, rainy day and I

remember every moment, and what I was doing at 7am, 8am, 9am, and every second beyond as I

prepared to walk toward my future with you. I’ll never forget the sounds, the smiles, the love, the

promise that would hold our families together for eternity. Our separate lives ended when we met

on a walk that day. I willingly and eagerly met you as you stood handsome and still…waiting.

 

 

 

We paused to pray, and speak promises

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to walk the rest of life together, and then we

 

 

did, and we have and we will.

 

 

 

And it’s in the meeting and the walking that love lives bold. In the compromise of joining

life together. In the daily pouring out of each other until we are a pooled mess, combined. No longer 

reflecting two images, but one glory- gathered image that no one can tear apart. Meshing and

melted we form unity and strength by being poured out and broken. Broken so our pieces can

forever fit together, a puzzle, pushed-together by the Promise Maker.

 

 

We set out on this walk that is sometimes a run, sometimes a wander thru wilderness. It’s been a

walk uphill, through the snow, without shoes….and it’s been a walk on the beach. It has always been

with your hand, with your shoulder, and on our knees with His WORD….always and forever. 12

years we have walked together and may we have dozens and dozens more.

 

 

I love you Rodney Jon McCray…Want to hold my hand and go for a walk?photo (40)

 

You were once a whisper (for Kellan John)

You were once a whisper, a dream, a hope , a prayer.

Now you are here.

What was once a lofty thought held in the high heavens

Is now in my arms, to touch, to hold, to admire , to cherish , to love.

I longed for you before I knew you, I loved you before I laid eyes on you…

And when your eyes met mine all time stood still for our love story to begin.

Oh, sweet miracle that I can call my own, how you take my breath away!

I am renewed by the gift of being trusted with you, your care, your safety and I take it all in.

 

 

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Forcing myself to breathe deep and capture

every angelic look, every cashmere cuddle,

every soothing scent of you.

 

 

 

 

I know all too well that your life is a gift and to

enjoy each unfolding moment slowly.

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Motherhood; a timeless treasure whose moments tick away so fast and

slow.  Separately and all at once.

 

 

Your brother Cameron gave me my new name of Mom.

Joy and fear overwhelmed me but hope and love anchored all.

I would learn it’s not about providing extravagant living, but rich love and endless grace. And you’ll

be loved well, with experience, because the siblings before you taught me .

I am ready to learn more. From you. And we will go about this new season snuggled, serene, and

tired and taught.

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May we learn so well that we never forget…not one melted mess, not one long and trying night, not

one laughter filled day.  Never forgetting a day with your presence.   Never forgetting one

moment of YOU…one moment of US…one moment of FAMILY. 

Because you once were a whisper, a dream, a hope , a prayer.