Thursday, August 23, 2012

I am still grateful...

“The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places.
But still there is much that is fair. And though in all lands, love is now
mingled with grief, it still grows, perhaps, the greater.” 

~ J.R.R. Tolkien from The Lord of the Rings 

Though the world is full of peril, I will continue to count the gifts that are, indeed, more beautiful in such dark places...

101. Mane & Mango playing guitar together every night for the past week.

102. More than 100 hits on my mom's CaringBridge site.

103. Finding peace in cooking good food for my family.

104. The beets my good friend saved for me from her CSA.

105. Rain.

106. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. ...these are such centering books for me, and I gravitate toward them when I'm struggling. Tolkien was brilliant!

107. People who love me both at work and at home.

108. Mango drinking cold press coffee by my side.

109. Mane doing her own laundry. :)

110. Mane enjoying TWO fantastic overnights with friends this past month!

111. Fiesta at my parent's place!

112. My parent's outdoor fun!

113. Mane & I working as a team to grocery shop and run errands this morning.

114. Blankets that people made for Mane when she was a baby.

115. Sunroom.

116. New tires on my bike!

117. A beautiful bike path for my work commute.

118. A growing up kind of summer.

119. Email from Vespera.

120. Text messages from Niteo.

121. My neighbor, who spent the day with Mane on Monday while I worked.

122. My Bible Study ladies, who are covering for me while my life goes crazy.

123. That beautiful camping trip in July!

124. Camp crafts.

125. Yarn. Loads of yarn for craft projects and for play.

126. Our hippy looking campsite once we'd decorated with all our camp crafts!

127. That the camping trip was so fabulous I could write a whole gratitude post about that trip alone...but, perhaps, some photos will suffice:

This post was inspired by Ann Voskamp at:

holy experience

Friday, August 17, 2012


I fell in love with magnolias when I first saw them in a specialty shop while looking at graduation invitations with Vespera several years ago. There's something so soft and clean and also a little exotic about them. They aren't loud. They're poised and quiet, not throwing themselves at you in a burst of color...just peaceful, composed, and waiting for you to notice.

Then I forgot about magnolias (short attention span?)...until I found myself declaring one day that magnolias are my favorite. It was a silly declaration. And I couldn't explain it once the words left my mouth. I couldn't even really identify magnolias, but I had this dim recollection of simple white blossoms against shiny green leaves and this faint sense of peacefulness that had descended on me when I first saw them. The love of magnolias had been hanging out in my subconscious just waiting for a chance to arrive on the scene.

I was reminded again of magnolias on a walk in the woods over spring break when I was staying with my mom during her chemo treatment. These aren't magnolias, but they evoked that same feeling when I saw them. They were when an old song brings you back to a time and feeling you had totally forgotten, or a familiar scent calls up the memory of something long gone.

I am told that magnolias are symbolic of a love of nature, of sweetness, of nobility, and of perseverance. And I can't get my mind off them tonight.

My mom's cancer is back. In a big way. I don't even know what that means right now. The doctors appointments are still looming on the horizon, not yet a reality. And we have this weekend, while all the offices are closed, before we all hit the ground running, taking in more information than we can bear, before talking to more doctors than we ever cared to meet. Right now we're in the calm before the storm. Or the quiet after a big shock. 

And magnolias are on my mind. Nature. Sweetness. Nobility. Perseverance. Isn't that an interesting combination? I want that to be me...earthy, gracious, composed and tough. Beautiful and gritty. Susan with her bow and arrow in Narnia. Eowyn with her sword in the Lord of the Rings. Sweetness and perseverance in the face of all that life brings.

So, I found that there are magnolias that live here in the windchilled land of Minnesota. Sweetness and perseverance, indeed. And I'm fascinated that some will even grow near Lake Superior and Canada. The type that grows the best here is called the Stellata...the Royal Star. Brings me back to my images of Narnia and Middle Earth, of royal banners, of the sweetness in life being redeemed through adversity, of beauty and perseverance walking hand in hand.

I don't know what any of this means. I don't know what kind of journey or fight this will be...for my mom, for my dad, for me... I'm not interested in adversity or fighting or living life on the edge right now. I just know that the magnolias in my mind's eye give me peace. And, perhaps, that's the presence of the Unseen with me tonight...throwing over me a banner of magnolias...soft and sweet, noble and strong.