My Gift List

I sit at work today trying to hold back the tears that come with the beginning of learning, opening and accepting the many gifts that God has given.

I am listening to One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. My mom and sisters follow her blog A Holy Experience. I have read some of her posts but have never been good about sitting down to read or follow blogs. A couple months ago, my sisters took up the challenge that Ann has proposed of making a list of 1000 things that they are thankful for. I thought I can do that, I have been writing my thankfuls down for years. In fact thinking on it now, I probably have thousands of things written in my thankful notebooks.

I began my list.

1. To be Challenged
2. Motrin – I got strep throat this week
3. Hot tea
4. Walks on brisk mornings
5. Flowers

To me it wasn’t any different than any other list, I would just continue the numbers instead of beginning at 1 every night. As I said writing my thankfuls was not new to me. My mom gave me a thankful book probably 15 years ago with the admonition that thankfulness and discontent cannot live together. I was faithful for much of that time to write 5 things I was thankful for each night. I still write them, only now it is on Facebook. I had the concept of thankfulness. I would be grateful for the good things and even those that brought me grief. At the end of the day I would read my Bible, pull out my notebook, find my place, and write the date and 5 things I was thankful for that day. I would close the book and be done. I didn’t put much more thought into it. I would be thankful for things through out the day in my mind and was thankful for all things, but didn’t really appreciate ALL the things and accept them as gifts of love to me from God.

As Ann’s voice is reading the words of her book through my headphones, I pull a piece of scratch paper close and begin a list.

1. The crunch of apples
2. The arrow of a mouse on the computer
3. Quesedillas full of cheese, chicken, and chopped bellpepper and onions
4. Ice Makers
5. Coke fountain drink machines
6. Rain trails on the windows

In naming each thing, I am seeing and receiving the gift. I am being thankful for that moment. In One Thousand Gifts, Ann describes her journey of being full of grace and living fully. It took hold with her list. Through her list of gratitude, she was able to live fully with joy in each moment. As I began to acknowledge each moment, each gift, my heart began to over flow with joy and gratitude to the big God that loves little me. I cannot tell you how many times I had to swallow back the tears and blow my nose so that I could continue work.

I begin to think on my life and the things that I have taken for granted in my thankfulness. And I thought of my house. A number has been put on the days that we have left in the house, and I could no longer wait. I thought of all the times we have had in the house, the flowers in the yard, the parties, the memories. It has been a good 14 years. I had to make a list, I wanted to picture so that I could remember. I don’t plan to forget, but I want to be able to think back to the wood piles, the rack of rain boots in all sizes, the bird houses in the trees, the creek and the green garage door.

How the neighbors must have wondered what the crazy neighbor lady was doing out in the rain, in rain gear and shoes too big with a bag that she kept putting to her face, but I had to capture the moments. Even though things look a little different with in the house from what it once was, that happens when the occupants change, the house is still my home. At least for a little while longer.

Come with me as I take notice of the little things that made this house a home.

If you were coming to our house, there a few distinct items that would help you to reach the correct home. Our famous mail box, with the chain stand my dad made. It has moved with us to every house as far back as I can remember.

Then there is the green garage door. How I remember the first time I saw the house, as we pulled into the drive way I lamented “A green garage door, I hate green garage doors.” But after looking in the window of the front door and seeing all the hard wood floors, I was in love with green garage doors. And it is a good green color. I think even if it was puke green, I would have been sold on the house.

Next to the garage there is the big tree…the cause of all the leaves in the yard.

And the rolling gate that dad made. (See the leaves and branches…its all from the big tree.)

The front yard was a wonder. I think it was one of the best on the street. I will never forget all the hard work my dad put in to it to make it beautiful. I would come home and find him with his bag of weeds and tools, carefully pulling all the little weeds that would cover the ground.

In the rain, the front ditch fills up with the run off from the creek. How many people drove into the ditch trying to act macho we will never know.

I love the spring. It is when the front yard bursts into bloom. Bulbs of all kinds and colors sprout up and reach for the sun.

The blossoms in the trees just starting to bloom.And the little purple ones that come up out of the middle of the ground.The bird houses hanging in the trees, welcoming feathered beings of all kinds to come and visit.The front walkway, 2 paths to take into the warmth of the home.

This patch of dirt from the driveway to the door was my mom’s section. The purple iris’ from a Great Grandma populated this corner. I love it when the bulbs pop up and show off their colors.

You can hardly see them for the leaves, but the Wondering Jew and Spider plants made a lovely combination of color in this section.

To the left of the front walk you can see where we had a walkway that led to a little stone seating area under the trees. Two iron rocking chairs and a little table, perfect for breakfast on a spring morning. You can still see where the stones had been laid carefully by my dad.

The hydrangea bush by the front door, right now it is all dry but in bloom it is beautiful. The plants have been in the barrel so long that the roots have grown into the bottom.

We believed that God had blessed us with this home, to help those in need. Just as Hebrews 13:2 says “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Our house was open to all those in need. And of course the grandkids and how loved they were by the Grannie and Grandpa found in this home.

The front door. It is green and black. Oh the number of friends and family that have walked through that door. We had an open door policy, we knew that if the door bell rang, it wasn’t a regular stopping by. Come inside and let me show you around.

This is the front entry way, from the other end. There is a little lip in the floor, don’t trip.  The front fire place that was never used for fire, except the little flames on candles.Right above the fireplace is the only professional picture of me and my siblings. It was taken about 15 years ago. Right behind the fireplace is the room that has become my studio. It has been my brother’s living room, my mom and sister’s sewing room, and a play room.

My wall of patterns, ideas of quilts to create.

My sewing machine and a table full of a quilt in progress.

The quilting machine that has made money, gifts, and ran lots of hours.

The table plant that mom left and I have remembered to water.

Here is the bathroom that I covered in frogs, all shapes and sizes.

And the room that was my brother’s a couple of times, my sister’s, and mine. When it was mine, it was yellow with 200 pictured thumb tacked to the walls.This room was mine also, along with a few other people at various times. Its the one with the stain glass window to the hallway.My room, for the second time. The bed is unmade, there is a pile of pillows on the floor, a basket of clean laundry and shoes waiting to be put away, but it is mine. I have grown up here, it will be hard to dig up the roots.The laundry room and the kitty bathroom all in one.A couple’s room, it was my parent’s, but now it is my sister’s. I used to come in at night and talk about all of life’s problems with my mom, we would laugh or cry and my dad would look up and roll back over. We solved a lot of issues there.The Kiss, a picture that reminds me of my parents, the love that was shown through out my years growing up. My mom had this picture in their bathroom and it will be coming with me when I go.

Back to the kitchen. The fridge used to be cream with no magnets, but this one is hear now. Nice and big with lots of storage and counters. And the upper cabinet on the corner that caught every one’s head.

The famous ball of mistletoe still hangs over the step before going into the living room. It hasn’t always been this one, but some of the kissing plant has been there for several years.

This was one of the best hiding spots in the house, it has often been full of toys and blankets. A wall of photos, a bookshelf full of books. The pictures may be different but it is the same love. The stories may be the kind you read instead of listen to but they are still books.Our room for living, the couches, fire place, and books. All have been loved. A place where life has been discussed, lived, laughter and tears. This is where the family would come together to keep close, to share, to dream and to pray.

The garage was once mine. I called it the dungeon. It has been the home to a brother and his family and the sewing room to many. All of my stuff now fits in one corner…I have learned to share, at least a little.

And the back yard. The deck we put on, it was brimmed with flower pots. The wine barrels that would grow sunflowers in the summer, the fire pit to light on nights of laughter, the modesty curtain for those in the hot tub, the piles of veggies for sale.

Right outside the back door were the mud boots of all sizes for the grand kids to use.The barn and loft, good hiding spots for kids and tools. The brick pile that has followed us from house to house, the wall that used to house old wagon wheels.

Hours of entertainment could be found in the back yard, a trampoline, marry-go-round that dad built…The slide and jungle gym from an apartment complex. I remember when the grand kids attached a hose to the top like we used to and ended up all covered in mud. A chicken coop made from mom, but not the pretty wood one that she wanted. But dad doesn’t do wood, he does steel. A see-saw from years and years ago, the garden, compost pile, fruit trees, grape vines. The harvest was an exciting time of year for us. Picking warm tomatoes off the vine, the first clump of sweet grapes. I can still taste them.The beauty in it all, the love pored into the ground that grew into blooms.

Thanks for coming and allowing me to share a pinch of the memories. Each moment captured is a moment of gratitude framed in the lens. I am grateful for the years we have had and will remember each time. My depth of gratitude has grown and with it comes joy and grace.

Published in: on February 18, 2011 at 9:02 pm  Comments (7)  

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thank you for sharing – you said it better than I could!!

  2. Tears and smiles as I read this. Beautiful!

  3. that song by miranda lambert “the house that built me” would go so good with this.
    : )

  4. I mean some of the lyrics would go not all : )

  5. I first put this on facebook – but I thought I should move it here…
    Home is where the heart is. Even though the house will always remind me of Bro Elmer and Sis Leslie and it still has your mark on it ~I could tell from some of the pictures that you didn’t live there anymore and my mind wandered to where the heart was NOW; all the things you have done to make a home for yourselves where you are…All the things Elmer has built and you have done. The Heart is what makes a Home! And I would rather go where the Heart is~ You truly have bloomed where you have been planted!

    The blog was a wonderful tribute by Emily! It is so hard when a young person has so much before them…to leave behind a place that has been so much a part of them.
    It was very hard on my kids when we moved from the home where they had been raised – we had lived there 19 years and over 21 years on that street – Caleb told the Realtor that he would come back one day and buy the house… That was 11 years ago… Now he is making memories in a old house in Indiana…in a home he has made with Tana and 5 laughing, loving children.

  6. ♥Thanks so much Emily for your heartfelt generosities of sharing your pictures, and your great *God given talent* in expressing your beautiful memories. Some (at least) of the pictures appear to be taken before your family “said goodbye”(which had to be obviously painful) before entering the next dwellings that God has directed for you.

    He has a purpose in all things, though the human often struggles to understand the whys. Your family as a whole gave So Much, ….then like Job, you have all been tested. But of course not for naught. There is Always a reason, …not the least but a better perspective on what Really counts with our ♥Heavenly Father. Romans 8:28

  7. […] ~ my sister’s thankfuls about our family home – I say […]

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