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I was blessed this weekend to read a very tender, touching review of my book by Dr. Jay Wile. To read a father's perspective of Quivering Daughters, please visit here.

M y parents are some of the most creative people I know when it comes to gift-giving. Sometimes when we kids finished a grade in our homeschool curriculum, my mom would buy us a plush little African Violet for our windowsill. Mine never seemed to live very long, but even today, seeing those rich colors and the velvety textures of this delicate flower makes me smile. This gesture helped mark an accomplishment for us and while we should have given her flowers at the end of our grades, my mother's thoughtfulness brought sweet encouragement and even joy at owning a plant that was for the purposes of beauty only...and that felt like a luxury! We couldn't eat it or grow it for seed; it wasn't for the goats or cultivated for fall canning. It was an indulgence, a commemoration, and so felt extra special.

     They also had creative ways of giving. I'll never forget the night they took me to dinner to celebrate the completion of my studies. I was eighteen; both parents and my baby sister and I went to an eclectic local eatery, and I marveled at the vintage dressmaker's form posed regally against the wall, draped in a vibrant shawl. In his humorous way, my dad stood next to it and put his arm around it ~ I have a photo of him and this form, his eyes twinkling with mischief and a huge grin on his face.
     Imagine my surprise when, following our meal, we got up to leave and he hauled the form out of the door! "It's for you," they explained at last. "It was mine all along?" I asked incredulous. "Yes..." and we all laughed and I gained a tool for my sewing that I'd always wanted.
     Another time, after I'd begun driving, my father instructed me to make a stop for him to pick something up...and it turned out to be a capo for me and my guitar. While my efforts to learn to play weren't successful (unfortunately!) it wasn't for lack of encouragement.
     As simply as we lived, and as much as we "did without", my parents found ways to bless, encourage, and provide for us, going above and beyond what the situation required. And yet even in the necessary things they did beautifully...thanks to my mom understanding my love of words, she found ways to inspire me to write. They gave me a "grown-up" Bible when I turned 7, with gold-edged pages, the words of Christ in red, and a ribbon marker that I ended up rubbing the satin away with delighted little fingers. I read that Bible till the spine came unglued, pages fluttered to the floor, and the leather cover peeled and left flecks on my pillow. Even then, I couldn't bear to part with it but buried it tenderly away in my belongings.
     I share my mother's affinity for strong, gourmet coffee and my dad's free-spirited nature. We are artists, and I love that I have recently re-discovered this legacy for I think it connects us more closely to our Father who is in heaven, who is the Artist, and in whose image we are created.
     More importantly than tangible things, however, my parents instilled in me a love for Jesus and the desire to serve and obey Him regardless of what others think, regardless of the cost. Because of their obedience to God I came to know Jesus early. While in later years I questioned many things and tested many things, I was trained in the way I should go and when I grew older I did not depart. I left much of religiousness but I never left the Way, Truth, and Life. My parents also prayed for me and worried about me, although it's devastating to know I've ever caused it. 
     You know, it's a blessing to have someone worry about you, because sometimes it shows that you are loved. 

I love the way light shines through cobalt blue.
Last night I could hear the low rumble of a car pulling into a parking space, and then the rippling quiet when the motor switched off. It reminded me of nights lying in bed at my childhood home. With closed eyes I could instantly immerse myself into the lower bunk I called my own, parallel to the windows that faced the driveway. Without looking, to my left I knew that I had my "pretty corner" ~ a small bedside table covered with little collectibles and photos of loved ones, dried rosebuds and sparkly crystals, books, pens, flowers. And little blue glass bottles. It was a gathering of tokens which brought color into my days; they were the carefully arranged treasures of a little girl. 
     In the nightnoises, in the whir of the little fan my husband keeps beside him, I could hear the trilling of locusts which nestled within lofty pines surrounding our farmhouse. They were a nightly serenade, and in the murmuring moments between sleep and awake I could hear them again last night...warming up and conducting their orchestra to the moon, to the sky, to the Artist of life. Nocturnal creatures they were, most alive when stillness enrobed the earth. 
     Sometimes I tuck myself into that space between my sister's bed and mine. I watch the face of my girlhood sleeping. Sometimes I wish I could suspend time and knowing, to close my eyes and sway to the sounds of the dark, to my favorite mournful lullaby of whippoorwills who haunt sun-warmed boughs cooled by moon. Sometimes my parents creep in, to make sure we're covered with sheets and to retrieve adventuresome pillows that slipped to the floor and I wish they would kiss my forehead and tuck me in again.
     What are you thankful for? What do you miss?


  1. I miss family dinners where everyone sat together and talked about the happenings of the day.

    I miss the anticipation and excitement of everyday happenings that were *not* everyday things for us-- like a family trip to the store, a visit with friends, a road trip. What has become tiresome business now used to bring so many happy, anticipating thoughts as a child!

  2. So true! A trip to the grocery store would make my whole week!!!

  3. I loved reading books out loud as a family, and making huge batches of delicious popcorn. I loved how our family made a big deal out of birthdays too.
    I miss the long theological discussions I used to have with my parents when I was a teen. It hasn't been the same since my views on God have started to change, but I remember that awesome feeling of knowing that we had figured it all out and we knew we were right. It's silly, but I miss being "right".

  4. what a precious story telling of days gone by...my mom gave me the gift of Jesus through her obedience, too and while yesterday i took advantage of her prayers, today i covet them. my mom is a storyteller and i miss her words tucking me in a night...she loves Jesus something fierce and always told of when Love came down.

    and i love being a storyteller to my girls and reading the bible at the dinner table and hearing their prayers rise up to Him.

    and i just plain miss my dad....He was known for his gifts...like a car at the age of 15 even though I didn't have a permit or sending me and my husband on trips to explore the word...He loved to give and I pray that passes through me to my girls...

  5. I just read the book review that Dr. Jay Wile gave for your book. All I can say is that it touched my heart.

  6. I'm so thankful for thorough teaching of God's Word. For the encouragement to memorize it. For the daily reading of it. For the truths of the verses that used to boggle my legalistic heart and brain, but that I knew were true because I knew the Bible was true.

    For the character that makes me successful now. I have a servant's heart that endears me to anyone I have a chance to do things for. I have a thoroughness and endurance that helps me keep working until the job is done. I have a sensitivity to others' needs and feelings. I have a basic knowledge of almost anything that needs to be done around a house, as well as a bit of familiarity with mechanical things. All these things my parents gave me.

    They valued books. My personal library is rapidly growing due to the love of books they passed on to me. They valued the right kind of curiosity and often allowed us to read and learn about the things we wanted to know.

  7. I miss the tropical atmosphere. I miss the bright green of growing things.
    I miss the feeling of being "safe". That I did not need to be afraid, because everything was as it had always been. I miss when I believed that "normal" was safe. I miss when it was so easy to sing, to go around the house singing to people, singing because I was happy.
    I miss rocking my baby sister to sleep. I was the only one in the family who could get her to sleep when she didn't want it.
    I miss the feeling of everything being an adventure. When you are young and you don't know what to expect. Before you get cynical and realize that the cycle repeats over and over and over again...

  8. What a beautiful post--and such a lovely, sincere, heartfelt endorsement of your parents. Whatever else may have happened in your life, it's nice to see that bitterness did not spoil your thinking. What a sweet tribute!

  9. What am I thankful for and what do I miss? Gosh...that would involve opening that door to the past.

    I am grateful that I was allowed to take my bike and ride far away f rom home...that I could go to the library most any time I wanted to get books to hide in. I would ride and read...two of my favorite escapes.

    I guess my parents loved me on some level, but I don't miss living with them and to be quite frank...I hate the legacy they left me.

    I do miss an old house we lived in for about 3 years...a house with a lot of character. I miss the big yard with its many trees and plants. I miss climbing the crabapple tree. I miss the dance lessons and our cats.

    Everything I think of that is positive is, sadly, tainted with negative. I think of the "positive" and my insides choke up as the negative comes creeping, too. There is so much buried in there.

    Sorry if this messes things up. You wrote a very positive post here and I am afraid that I am bringing a negativity to it. :-(

  10. I love your way with words Hillary. ♥

  11. Oddly enough, the things I most credit my parents for were completely an accident, not at all what they consciously intended for me to learn.

    I am a HUGE reader, although neither of parents would read except as necessary for a job or learning some new "how to". I discovered reading as an escape from the cognitive dissonance in my life--and the mental horizons that broadened thereby only increased the dissonance! Because neither of my parents were book lovers, it didn't occur to them to monitor or censor my reading until I was nearly grown, when it was far too late.

    And, even more importantly, I learned early to question the experts. I never took anything at face value. Certainly my fundy parents never WANTED me to question everything, they would have much preferred me to obediently follow whatever "wisdom" they were passing out that day.

    But we jumped from church to church frequently as Dad moved from ministry to ministry (often due to personality conflict with authorities) so I was exposed often to the idea that disagreeing with authority was not only possible but expected.

    Also going to so many churches of so many different denominational stripes introduced me to a whole lot of different Rule Sets. Each church taught their version as Gospel Truth. Realizing that every congregation had its own biblical interpretation made it obvious that what passes for facts are often only opinions--so now I always look for backstory, motivation, and hidden power dynamics.


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