when it all feels a bit like a mismatched mess

It was at the end of it all that I held it, how the smallest of gifts can most enlarge a heart.

On Mother’s Day, I’m the mother walking out of chapel with the son who is wearing shoes. It’s just shoes that don’t happen to match — one brown and one green.

And the son smirks and I’m the messed up mother hanging onto a singular thread of unbreakable grace.





“Kai — “ I’m got one arm around him and and we’re manouevering around Janelle with carnation in her hair, holding her baby sister, around the VandeCamp twins leaning by the chapel door, and I lean down. “Kai, why aren’t you wearing your Sunday shoes?”

“Couldn’t find ‘em.”

Uh huh.

We’re out in the sun of the parking lot. He hops over potholes in the gravel.

“And Kai — “ I call from behind him running towards the cedar rail fence and the wood behind the country chapel.

“Why aren’t the shoes you’re wearing — matching shoes?”

“Just got one of mine and one of Levi’s!” He double leaps over a small crater in the driveway. “Don’t they sorta match?” He turns and twinkles an irresistible grin and I’m surrendered to love.

Surrendered to the son wearing mismatched shoes to Sunday services and grinning all silly, and he doesn’t know it, but he hands me this gift and I full stop in the middle of the gravel lane and for just one moment I see how ridiculously beautiful all this life is.

I haven’t got anything together and I can stop looking for some hidden door that’s going to someday open up to my real, perfect life and I can stop waiting and I can start laughing praise, because this wondrous mess, this is it.

Now is the gift and regret isn’t worth a sliver of the living and Christ the Door invites to just take the next step through.

The mattering part’s never what’s on your feet.


And when I tuck the last one into bed at the end of Mother’s Day, at the end of a day of cards and flowers and kites and running and jumping and falling and crying and hugging and beginning again, always the fresh beginning again —- this last one she reaches up from her pillow and gently pulls my neck into her little beating life and she whispers it into my ear, right down into the canyons, “I have nothing more to give you now — but all my love. And my heart.”

And I cup her face and the childhood, and this is it, all there is for the child to give now, love, and a heart full of thanks, us all in a world not just blessed but divinely favored, all these mismatched moments leaping lovely over bumps in the road.

This road running on home towards the Father…





#2405 – #2417 of a heart of thanks to God, of the  One Thousand Gifts that never end…


a Farmer who works long through the night to begin planting season

sun at last and the hope of putting seeds in the earth

spring grit ringing the bathtub again

worn, weathered farming men, many of them, looking for cards at the grocery store, the Saturday eve before Mother’s Day

sleeping the night on sun-dried sheets

wild daffodils picked from the ditches early on Mother’s Day morning, to meet me at breakfast

surprising my mama at her door early, everything wrapped

a preacher who weeps love on a Sunday morning

men working in the kitchen with sons, servant hearts

Sunday afternoon naps with my mama here, the whole house drowsy and grateful and quiet

8 weeks @ NYTimes

beginning again, always the freshness of grace


kaileaves.button onethousandgiftsbutton the book button

{and too, for this banner button, a little Mother’s Day gift that Joshua surprised with!…}


Today, if you’d like to share your own marking towards One Thousand Gifts of thanks, of making your life about thanks to God — (please, jump in!) — just add the direct URL to your specific 1000 gift list post… and if you join us, we humbly ask that you please help us find each other by sharing the community’s graphic within your post.