Musings from the Threshold

Category Archives: Gratitude

2016 Highlights

It’s a bit surreal to be back to this once-familiar screen. It has been over three-and-a-half years since my last post. Two days after that post came one of those experiences you read about in books, where the world stops for a moment, when it feels as if your heart must have surely stopped beating, and when you know that your world with never be the same. So began the darkest valley of my life, which was not bloggable. And through that valley, my Savior and Redeemer proved Faithful and True, and took me deeper than my feet would have ever nightmared to walk. He let me see His wisdom, sovereignty, and goodness in such rich and sweet ways. And perhaps, some day, I’ll be able to tell you about His redemption in our story. But for now…

Lately, I’ve been feeling the pull (the conviction, actually) to get back to writing, and to get back to my blog. I’ve been pondering some of the ways the Lord has shown me His goodness this year, and it seems like a fun place to re-start the ol’ blog.

So here are some highlights…

Into God’s Word with the One Year Bible
Many years of my life I have begun a Bible reading plan with a new year. I am a rule follower, and a smidge OCD, and generally by March, I would have diagnosed myself as a failure and given up.
A couple years ago, I met my friend Jill and began to hear her talk (A LOT 😉 ) about her beloved One Year Bible for Women. I found out that it’s the entire text of the Bible, just divided for readings of approx. 15 minutes for each day of the year. What got me, though, was realizing that my friend would just read the passages for each date, regardless of whether or not she had missed a day. Granted, I think she rarely misses a day, but it was the idea of not having to “catch up” that intrigued me and made me think this might actually work for me!
So, several days into 2016, my One Year Bible arrived, and I began a new adventure. I think that I have absorbed more of God’s Word this year than I ever have before in a year. I’ve missed plenty of days, but never felt discouraged. And the Lord has been faithful to show more and more of Himself to me as I’ve been in His Word.

The Lord has been teaching me much in this area. I don’t think I’ve ever been a “yes man,” yet I’ve had a strong tendency to overfill my plate. I think I’ve come a long way this year in learning to let go of things that are not on my priority list, to make wiser choices, and to not feel guilty when something does not make the cut.
Much of this work in me is just listening to His still small voice. My husband has been a terrific physical voice in this process, and my Mama has been my cheerleader. Crystal Paine’s book Say Goodbye to Survival Mode has been a great practical help, with exercises to help me think through priorities, Best Things, etc.

Growth in my Relationships with my Family
I like where my man and I have grown to in our relationship. Settled, content, growing and working together, etc.
I’m also thankful for the growth I’ve seen in my relationships with my darlings.

Time with my Mother-in-Love
This month marked two years since Mom Smith was diagnosed with advanced cancer. I treasure the tenderness and sweetness that has developed in our relationship as we have walked this journey together. Time is so very precious.

Health Improvement

June 2016
June 2016

to this…
December 2016
December 2016

makes a tremendous difference. It’s not just the 40 pounds lost; there is much more to it than that. I made the commitment to myself and my family that I would do something to become healthier. My wonderful chiropractor has gone above and beyond in helping me to find something that would truly work for me, and my family has put up with both the weirdness of my eating, and with my need to cook “blind” because I couldn’t taste test their food. Definitely a highlight!

Our good God is only good, and He only gives good. He is worthy of all praise!
All is grace.

Memories, tangible and intangible

The apron is blue cotton, generously sprinkled with pink and pale yellow flowers mixed with faded leaves. It snaps up the front, cobbler-style, has two front pockets, and is trimmed in pink. I crumple it to my face, and despite its many washings, if I breathe deeply enough (or is it my imagination?), I can still smell her, still smell them. The scent of their home, my precious grandparents’ Byrds Nest. And the tears well up. And sometimes they fall.

Like rightthisminute as I sit and type. And sob. One moment, please…

Thankfully, aprons make lovely hankies. G’ma would have several tissues tucked into those pockets, but I just use the apron.

I love cooking in my G’ma Liz’s aprons, this one especially. I love serving my family on her dishes.
I have several shirts of G’pa’s that I dream of crafting into a piece of him that I can hold.

Four years gone, my G’pa and G’ma Byrd. September 2007 – G’ma on the 25th, G’pa on the 27th. He had to care for her until the end.

About a week ago, one of my Blessings dropped the lid to G’ma’s teapot. The one that matches the green set of Colonial dishes that she bought in 1959. I think a sob escaped my throat before I ran to my room, not wanting to hurt her with my pain. Several minutes later, I scrawled out gift #694: small hands that are more precious and irreplacible than G’ma’s 52 year old china. Such lessons in broken things.

A few days after the teapot lid was broken, I realized … I cling to the physical remembrance of those gone before. Though I know holding on to their things won’t bring them back, still I cling. Yet I realize that the real gifts that they have given me are in my heart.

So yesterday, I scrawled out some more thanks. Thanks for memories of my G’pa and G’ma. There are so many more that I’m sure I’ve missed. Family of mine, I would dearly love it if you would add some of your memories.

(Gifts #695-755)
Christmas in Atlanta
Visits to Andy’s Trout Farm
The twirl and whirl of them square dancing
Scenic overlooks in the mountains
Climbing to a mountain top
Trip to the waterfall
Picnics – with “vitamins,” pimento cheese, saltines, ham sandwhiches, and more
The Byrds’ Nest acquired
Upstairs room with twin beds for E and I
Hours of talking with my Bubba
Mountain air through the windows
Vanity with old lamps and hat pins
Mountain Christmas with no power and loads of snow
Fireplace to keep things cozy
Oil lamps
Sound of G’pa going in and out the back door
G’ma puttering in her kitchen
Firecrackers in the front circle on July 4th
The cats
Smoky and Trixie, their dogs
Mountain walks
Picking Mulberries
The basketball goal mounted on the side of the old cabin
Having a place at the table and my “own” cloth napkin
Big lazy susan with condiments, etc
The green dishes, full of good food
Love we could eat – greens (which I didn’t appreciate), beans, cornbread, eggs, toast, “vitamins” (raw veggies), ham, juice… I could go on and on!
Homemade peach ice cream and lemon pound cake
Learning to play Rook (with G’ma, E, and a “dummy”)
Front porch rockin’
Birds coming in to eat
G’ma’s aprons and tissues tucked in sleeves and pockets
Sweet milk and buttermilk from Daisy(?), who lived down the mountain
G’pa always on the go… chopping wood, gardening…
G’pa’s crazy stories
His rib-cracking hugs (I am blessed to have a son who got that gene)
Their places in the living room
Watching baseball and weather on their little TV
G’ma’s papers
Playing games
The cool of the upstairs bedroom on my face when I’d return from mountain driving feeling carsick
Taking Beka to the Byrds’ Nest for the first time
Picking/snapping beans
Going to the canning place with G’pa and Beka
“Becky” 🙂
Teaching Beka “Rage” on the front porch (“I never played a game I didn’t want to win before”)
A broken hot water heater in the cabin = fast and freezing showers for the girls!
Walks to the creek/waterfall “next door”
Sharing a birthday with G’pa
Turning “100” with him
Watching Papa, Eric, Beka, Jonathan, and G’pa split wood – at 82, he was the best of the bunch!
Sleeping in the cabin with Eric and Beka our first Christmas married – two couples, two twin beds.
The Easter egg hunt for our (then four) Blessings
The softness of G’ma’s hands
G’ma’s cat paraphernalia
“The hurrier I go, the behinder I get”
G’pa: You’re a mess! Elanor: No, you’re a mess!
Favorite G’pa quotes: Do you love me like you used to love me before you learned to love me like you love me now?
And: Cotton-pickin’ pea picker
And: I was lookin’ back to see if you were lookin’ back to see if I was lookin’ back to see if you were lookin’ back at me
G’pa sitting in his chair, reading the Bible.

Thank you for walking down memory lane with me. Enjoy the song, but make sure you have a tissue tucked up your sleeve or in your pocket.

It’s a Weekday!

Starting a new weekday habit on Friday night makes things a bit tricky. I almost forgot today.

And the streams of thought run through my head so quickly that it’s difficult to grab onto one.


There’s one that I can hang onto.

I mentioned that Jonathan was recently off work for three unpaid weeks. For some reason, I felt awkward talking about God’s provision for us while we were in the midst of it. For some reason, now that he’s working again, it doesn’t seem as uncomfortable. But really… why should there be a taboo against praising the Lord for providing for our needs?

Anyway, it was amazing to see the way the Lord uses His people to be His hands and feet in our lives. We have received groceries, a cooler full of meat, money with which to carry on financially, and more. For me, this “sparse” time has been a great blessing as we have been loved and provided for in such neat ways. I feel loved and cared for by our body of fellow believers in a way I can’t adequately describe. Especially at almost eleven at night with two minutes left on my timer! But I am thankful.

The four year anniversaries of the passing of my G’pa and G’ma Byrd are coming up quickly, and the waves of grief have been coming. I’m trying to remember to remember they are somewhat akin to labor pains, in that I find it most helpful to work with them as they come, and let them go when they are done. There will be more, and I pray they are somehow productive.

Multitudes of Manna

Let us, with a gladsome mind,
Praise the Lord, for He is kind.

For His mercies aye endure,
Ever faithful, ever sure.

Let us blaze His Name abroad,
For of gods He is the God.

(John Mil­ton was 15 years old when he wrote this hymn.)

Gifts #625-693
~ Grace in weeks of unwritten thanks
~ Learning to see His love-gifts in all
~ Opportunity to apprentice – learning living skills from loving hearts and hands
~ Dependable sprinkler
~ Life-giving water
~ Bees spreading life to plants
~ Extra weeks of staffing and learning
~ Vegetable blossoms
~ A fortnight of Papa and Mama

~ Five days off for my man
~ A new Independence Day tradition
~ Field trips with family
~ Wonder of gleaming wood and the dance of machinery to roll out flour
~ Majestic view for miles

~ Straight dirt roads fading to the horizon
~ Grocery store surprise visit with friends
~ Thrift store bag sale
~ Five day break from work-pain for my love
~ Bread dough – bubbling, rising, sometimes falling*, always nourishing
~ Tendonitis*
~ Kisses in the dark
~ Afternoons at family camp – sun, swimming, fellowship, learning
~ Evenings of Rage with family and friends

~ Snacks and laughter
~ Night of good rest before the first “birth call” of my apprenticeship
~ The multitude of midwives who have blessed me with their care, friendship, knowledge over the last 15+ years
~ Dark quiet candlelit labor
~ The waiting
~ Soul nourishment in the waiting
~ Labor-throes cry announcing the time is near
~ Life out of darkness
~ Tether unwound
~ Fresh pinking baby skin
~ The slow of blood
~ Skills honed over hours, days, nights, years – of study, practice, and prayer… my preceptors
~ Glad welcome upon arriving home
~ Family held together
~ Mountains of laundry done by Mama
~ That hit-by-a-train feeling
~ Nine hours of sleep… blessed sleep
~ Lingering awe of playing some small part in welcoming a new life
~ Morning of fellowship and soul-stretching with our body of believers
~ Heart-sister caring for me so tangibly
~ Challenge: “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” John 5.44
~ Laughter and heart-tying over fellowship lunch
~ Flurry of preparation
~ Helping hands and soothing heart … my Mama
~ Arrival of Beka-honey and The Cousins
~ House spilling over with family, friends, and pancakes
~ Air-conditioning on record-setting days
~ Cooler mornings (even when I find it odd to think of 83′ as the cool of the morning)
~ Bird antics, reminders to bring my camera to the porch in the morning
~ Orioles bobbing the trumpet vines as they feast
~ Wisp of a breeze across the porch
~ Redemption with the precious blood of Christ
~ Cousins making memories
~ Living life together
~ Walking with three dear ladies
~ A blast at the Splash
~ Heart-changes

~ Cousin pics
~ Fivefingers
~ Double batch of green salve
~ New leaves on weather weary plants… do we all just need to put down deeper roots to bear fruit?
~ Forming connections with new care providers
~ Returning to prayer meeting after two weeks away – oh! the sweetness!
~ A bank of clouds to form a bit of a sunset show, followed by a few more at sunrise
~ Lessons in trust, thanksgiving, and perseverance in the midst of seemingly unending dry intense heat
~ That seemingly unending dry intense heat
~ Inspiration in preparation

Retracing Blessings

I’m sitting in His presence,
The sunshine of His face,
While with adoring wonder
His blessings I retrace.
It seems as if eternal days
Are far too short to sound His praise.

Oh, the love that sought me!
Oh, the blood that bought me!
Oh, the grace that brought me to the fold,
Wondrous grace that brought me to the fold.

Gifts #589 – 624
~ The first sunflower blooms of the year spotted on June 1
~ The profusion blooming in the weeks since
~ The tenderness with which He seeks me
~ The old, old story of Jesus and His love (see here and here for two wonderful hymns on this theme from a poem by A. Katherine Hankey)
~ Corn planted at last (and now coming up)
~ First week of LTC for D
~ Treasured hours with our young man home between weeks of camp
~ Gift that overwhelms
~ Unity of purpose
~ Peace in knowing our Shepard will lead
~ First week of staffing
~ 4 years

~ 8 years

15 years

~ Unconditional blessing
~ First savings account
~ Watching the wheat through its stages

~ Harvest in process
~ Break in the heat
~ A heart-soothing Savior
~ Goal-success for a friend
~ Realization that it’s okay to need a summer break
~ Growing garden
~ Week of working and playing peaceably with my Blessings
~ Anticipation of having everyone home for a week
~ God, my Rock and fortress
~ Early Ed. appointment for Andrew
~ Fondly remembered therapist at his screening
~ Encouragement about his progress
~ Family weekends
~ Abundance of birds and blooms about the yard

~ Discouragement that comes when grand ideas don’t start off with a bang
~ Lessons in patience and perseverance
~ Mulberries richness gathered
~ Freedom, for which Christ has set us free
~ Lessons in laying hold of that for which Christ Jesus has laid hold of me (The Green Letters by Miles J Stanford)

Multiple weeks worth of Multitude Mondays on Memorial Day

Gifts #532 – 588
~ Pink Peonies gracing my table and scenting my home
~ Garden sprinkler arching water over growing plants
~ Wind stilled for a brush-and-box burning

~ Space cleared in the shop
~ Puttering around the property with my love
~ Heart-lift from seeing dear faces as we run errands
~ Developing an errand-day routine
~ The wonder of the library
~ Intersecting library days
~ Driving my love to work when I need to use the van
~ Anticipation of two vehicles come July
~ Rural Kansas steering-wheel waves
~ Dirt Roads
~ Successful meal experiments
~ Young men making tortillas
~ Scripture songs with dear ones (for 20 minutes on a Wednesday night!)
~ Some rain at last
~ A walk-and-talk with Bethany
~ Meeting a “new” friend (who actually helped at B’s birth)
~ Paint on the walls
~ Drum of rain on metal roof
~ Hugs from sleepy Blessings
~ Cast iron skillet in use on my gas stove
~ Gorgeous sunset storm enjoyed with family

~ River play on a Saturday
~ Heat of sun on skin
~ Siblings enjoying one another’s company
~ Exploring together
~ Renewed motivation to get healthier
~ My Savior’s body broken and His blood shed
~ Fellowship lunch spent in sweet fellowship
~ Flowers blooming
~ Busy-ness of birds preparing for the night as I take an evening walk
~ Song of a bird behind me, calling me to turn and catch sight of the giant bank of fluffy pink clouds in the east
~ Blooming peonies
~ Husband who reminds me to take care of myself
~ Necklace lying loose around my neck
~ Cottonwood fluff drifting
~ A rocker in my quiet bedroom with birds outside noisily about their morning business
~ Deepfelt need for wisdom
~ Tears of joy
~ Working hard, side by side with the Blessings
~ Enjoying the fruits of our labor as we look around the yard
~ Garden progress
~ Mulberry-rhubarb pie
~ Friends to help trim fruit trees and give orchard lessons
~ Our eldest at Leadership Training Camp
~ Delight of seeing camp friends
~ Second generation LTCers
~ Reminders to pray
~ Visit from a sweet neighbor
~ Jesus – never failing Redeemer
~ The Father’s determination to form the image of Christ in me
~ A day to remember those who have fought and died for our freedom

A Multitude of Gifts this Monday!

I missed posting my thanks last Monday, so I have a couple weeks worth today. But first, a bit of Psalm 118 that lifted me up this morning:

Psalm 118:19-29
Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD.
This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it.
I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Save us, we pray, O LORD! O LORD, we pray, give us success!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD.
The LORD is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us. Bind the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar!
You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you.
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

Gifts #532 – 581
~ A God Who does not need me; who chooses to love me (Ps 50)
~ Breaks in the clouds, with silver, white, and blue showing through
~ Rainbows in hose water
~ Reminders of His promises
~ A guest bedroom – a real live guest bedroom!
~ Pleasant people on my quest for new license and tag
~ Stomach yuck almost over
~ A working grain mill for my use
~ Glenn’s Bulk Foods
~ Wheat berries and fresh flour experiments
~ Sr Smiths’ safe arrival in town
~ House found for them
~ Unloading a moving truck once instead of twice
~ Assurance of God’s wisdom and planning
~ Week (and weak) of sickness
~ Extra days of closer fellowship
~ The side effects of being sick
~ The steadfast love of God endures all the day (Ps. 52.1)
~ Birthday celebration for our one year old

~ Picnic in the park
~ Pepper and tomatoes in the ground, thanks to my Blessings
~ Joy of watching a little man follow his Daddy while he works on the chicken coop
~ Bright red cardinal in the green at my window
~ Blue eggs!
~ Irises blooming out my kitchen window – my favorite flower prepared for me
~ Cut flowers from my Blessings
~ Familiar blast of hot air upon exiting Dillons
~ The gift of sharing a chicken tractor
~ Dreams and plans for a couples trip
~ Simple joys that are part of dreams come true
~ Wheat fields undulating in the wind
~ Sunset light on a dear face
~ Baggy-bottom pants that were lately too tight to wear
~ 360′ sunset colors

~ Vast expanse of fluffy white intermingled with patches of azure
~ Sweet potato promise
~ Trees and vines trimmed and cleared
~ Joy of co-laboring with family
~ Menu and budgeting progress
~ Heart-mingling by phone (with my beloved parents)
~ Anticipation of a coming visit
~ Planting sunflowers with a precious almost-four-year-old boy
~ LTC Registration
~ Paint Purchased
~ Family discussions around the supper table
~ Awe-inspiring stump fire
~ Prayer with my love in the sunrise light
~ Psalms that resonate with my heart
~ The LORD – my strength, song, and salvation! (Ps. 118.14)

Gifts abounding

Gifts #501 – 531
Seeds in the ground at last
The contagious love of planting
Unexpected opportunity
A full-time job for J
Budgeting potentialities and challenges
My wind chimes singing steadily on the front porch
Hard working man
Soul satisfaction
A friend and neighbor with whom to walk
Garden fencing beginning
Tomato cages
A walk to the mailbox with my Doodlebug
Cardinal singing
First poultry sale
Crazy wind
Stomach yuck
Work day at KBC
Our crazy chicken that eat the seeds I plant but lay such lovely eggs
Two hidden egg stashes found
Working stove after a month of learning contentment without one
Three days of remembering, “A year ago at this time…” leading up to a
One year old birthday boy – a whole year with our precious little man
Him sharing a birthday with a May Day miracle girl
Packages from far away
Hearts that are close over the miles
Hearing word of justice served from my Mama, the one who called me to tell me to turn on my tv that awful sunny September morning almost a decade ago
The reminder that I have earned my place – an eternity separated from my Creator
God’s grace – redeeming, drawing, saving grace
Love beyond my grasp
A friend who cares to call and check on us in our sickies
Finished garden fence

Many thanks

Gifts #437 – 469

~ Weeds pulled and ground cleared
~ A big blooming lilac bush
~ Sweet fellowship and prayer meeting
~ A Bogey’s-inspiring night (even without the Bogey’s)
~ Getting stronger
~ Walking with my love in the KS moonlight
~ Gala apples
~ Some work for Jonathan
~ The faith-journey of waiting for more
~ Rising early and preparing for the day with my man
~ A little nap after he has gone
~ Josiah and Andrew playing
~ Cold brew coffee
~ A beautiful moonset
~ Watching squirrel activity by silhouette in the sunrise
~ Early morning breakfast and chat with J
~ Being up and at ’em before the Blessings
~ A house so quiet I can hear the birds outside with the doors & windows closed (chilly morning)
~ Safety in the crazy strong wind
~ Adventuring children
~ Anticipation to learn what the Father has in store for us
~ Being challenged in my thinking
~ 10 pounds gone since 3/8
~ Memories being made by our children – Remember the time P. smashed the rotten egg with the bat and it splattered all over us? Then the moms wouldn’t let us come inside because we stunk so horribly?
~ 12 miles
~ A weekend retreat for the older boys
~ A singing chapel
~ Birds building nests
~ The intense heart-pain of beloved places in a state of dreadful disrepair*
~ The question – what are we to do?
~ Budding vision… KFM?
~ Time to scratch out thanks and read the Love Letter
~ A season to focus on His life-giving death and resurrection (A simple resource for your Passion Week right here)

*The hard thanks

Multitude Monday

Finally sitting down to scratch out thanks (Gifts #376-436) with:
The Kansas wind in my hair and
The chatter of a myriad of birds around me
“Interruptions” from dog and dear daughter
Sunshine and shade
Cardboard and tape to shelter our stuff
Overabundance and the revelation of need for still more purging
Friends and family to help pack/load
The early discovery of a purse left behind
Mom S’s gracious retrieval of said purse
Returning from truck pick-up to find a clean and packed kitchen
Hard-working Blessings, both ours and others’
Last night there and first night here – in my own bed
Safety and speed for our caravan of moving trucks and personal vans
The absence of dog vomit on a 10 hour drive
Safe transport of (and subsequent egg laying from) our chickens
Blue skies and fluffy clouds on unloading day
Friends, both old and new, to help us unload
The watchful eyes of my husband, being sure I don’t hurt my back
Visit from extended family (with pizza!) our first evening here
An array of new plant to learn about/care for
Fruit trees/bushes
Anticipation of harvesting the fruit
A beautiful rental property
A house with lots of room
Closets with shelves
J taking care of essentials before returning to Missouri
Family picnic and walk
The discovery of sand hill plums
The steadfastness of my man in returning to MO to finish work for Lowe’s and on the house
Sacrificial love from Tina and Sue in cleaning up my homemaking/cleaning failures
That those precious ladies still love me!
A week here focused on unpacking/settling
Kitchen floor found
Internet connected
Several days without distraction
Getting back to serious about losing weight and getting stronger
Companions on my health journey (made close due to the wonder of internet)
Inspiration from a hard-working friend devoted to getting healthier
Strong backs to fill in for my weak one
Visits from friends
Welcome from new neighbors (and food!)
Jehovah-Jireh – He does provide!
Perfectly timed (see above) visit and ride to town from Cheryl
Walks with my Blessings
Their growing appreciation for Kansas beauty
Trip to a “swap” for reconnecting with friends
And afternoon with the Asberrys
Tears of joy over hearing our children laugh and play together
Years of longing coming to fulfillment
The safe return of my man
Not sleeping alone
Walking/talking/planning around the property together
Common goals and interests
A great exercise-walk in the wind of a coming storm
Watching the storm system develop from miles away
The cats recovered and brought to our new home
Fellowship with friends at chapel
Good food deals @ Aldi’s
A long Sunday afternoon nap
Sounds of my man working
A quiet inner call to count gifts