The Blessing

There is much afoot at the farm this week —  that all involves an invitation to all of you to come to the farm {more on the grace of that soon! Pray?} … So if all the friends will be invited ?  Today, first inviting one of my oldest and most cherished friends to the farm, pulling up a rocking chair on the front porch and listening to Tonia Peckover tell just this:

In all the years she’d been alone —

she’d gotten used to taking care of things by herself, so it was strange to lie here now, listening to another person’s footsteps, knowing the morning noises that told about the shower, the coffee, the hen’s eggs cracked into the cast iron skillet were all for her.

Anna had come into her room early, tiptoeing in the dark to open the window and let in the cool morning air.

She had lain there with her eyes open, watching her daughter’s quiet progress across the room, but Anna had only tiptoed out again and pulled the door closed gently, unaware.

Now there were footsteps in the hall and a soft knock on the door.

“Mama?” Anna whispered. “You awake yet?” The sun had been up for awhile now; she had turned her face towards it, letting it warm her eyelids, the bones in her cheeks. Anna carried a tray; the fried eggs laid out on her blue and white wedding china, a snip of the pink rose from the driveway in a small bud vase.

“I brought you some breakfast. How does that sound?” Anna waited for her to respond, eyes on her mouth, watching for some small sign.

“Doesn’t that sound good, Mama?” She set the tray down and knelt beside the bed, helping her with the glass of water, the pills the doctor had ordered.

“Doctor says you might get your speech back,” she said gently. “We’ll work on it together, Mama. Don’t worry.”

The room swelled with the silence, and she suddenly thought about when the children had been small, when Mr. Morris had seen her desperation and given her a chance at the telephone company as an operator. She’d talked enough then for a few lifetimes. In her mind she tested out some words, rolled them back and forth, let them fall again into the quiet from where they came.

Her body felt light, her muscles relaxed, so different from those years after Tom had left for good. She’d worked so hard then, she’d thought her bones would break in pieces. Even her skin seemed to know it, stretching taut across her skeleton to help her hold together. The house was full of children of course; their loud busyness directed the days. But when she crawled into bed at night there was an icy hollow in the space his body used to fill. She learned to wrap the blankets tight around her to keep the cold from seeping in.

She’d been driving home late from work one night, her shoulders sagging tiredly and the fear of the hollow in the bed looming towards her, when she saw the billboard:

See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil…therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.

She didn’t know what it meant, but she pulled over to the side of the road and wept.

That Sunday she went to the only church she knew, First Community Baptist, and asked the preacher what to do next. She and the children returned every week after that, taking up one whole pew all by themselves. At first she was angry when she looked at the other families sitting quietly, a firm, strong man like an anchor at the head of their rows.

But the preacher told her about forgiveness and over time her bones quit clattering and her skin let loose once more.

The grey was in her hair, her middle thick with years, and the children grown and gone when Tom showed up again.

“I’ve got nowhere to go, girl,” he said in his old way. But she could see that he was broken too, his eyes rimmed red from the liquor, his fingers thick and twisted from his years of work. The girlfriend was done with him at last, it seemed.

“I’m not drinking anymore,” he said and he held out one steady hand to prove it. She made him do more than that; the preacher said he could sleep in the old goat shed behind his house. It was six months before she let him in the front door, a year before she let him see the children.

“It’s been twenty years, Mom. You don’t have to take him back.”

“He’s only here because his girlfriend kicked him out; you don’t owe him anything.”

They were smart kids; and they were right, of course. Right until one of them said fiercely, “Don’t take forgiveness too far, Mom.” That had stopped her. What kind of forgiveness was it that only went halfway?

She drove him to the spot on the side of the road where the billboard had been. She told him about the loneliness, the cold that had made her ache, about the anger and the empty space at the head of their pew. Finally, she told him about the way the words had left a choice for her that night. He nodded, his eyes wet with tears. He’d reached over and squeezed her hand.

I forgive you,” she said and they drove home together.

Seven years later she let him go once more, standing next to his hospital bed at the cancer center. She held the blue sweater he always wore up to her face, breathing in his scent before it fled away forever.

Only that morning he’d reached a trembling hand up to touch her cheek and said, “I wish I could have all the years back.

Anna had been there; and all the other kids too. And every one had kissed him and called him Daddy and he had said thank you, thank you, and then they had held hands around his bed and he had prayed for them, the first and only time he ever did, his simple, broken words falling like a blessing on their heads.

She turned her face away with all the remembering, but Anna reached down and stroked her hair, drawing her back. If she’d had words she’d tell her daughter about the stillness she felt now, the warmth that thrummed in the center of her body. Peace, the preacher called it. But she was a plain woman, she didn’t know how to say things anyway.

She watched Anna’s face, letting her gratitude flow out of her like a prayer, letting it flow out over her daughter, over the room, over the house, a blessing of her own to give.

While Anna sat quietly beside her, she blessed the years and all their memories, the children in their varied places.

Up and out she sent her thankfulness, out to the sky where she could see it would flow out, and out, until it escaped this little world and went on and on, until it had reached all the way to God

– – where it belonged.




(text & photos by Tonia Peckover @ Study in Brown …. “Inspired by my Grandma, who really did choose life for us all.“)


…. and my own counting more of His endless, One Thousand Gifts … thanks be to God for all of these blessings:

picking tiger lilies in the ditch with Hope, us laughing until our sides hurt… {#4025}

a niece who whispers in my ear if she can call home & ask her mama if it really would be okay to have the ice cream… {#4026}

the card he left on my pillow last night & what he whispered to me first thing this morning… {#4027}

#13 on the New York Times for One Thousand Gifts– 41 weeks this week. Only God, wholly in spite of one broken, sinful woman saved by the grace of Christ {#4028}

my mama who fills our freezer up with casseroles knowing all that has to happen, Lord willing, this week… {#4029}

that when we are ridiculously weak, we can turn our eyes on Jesus who is wildly strong … (#4030}

18 years ago today… I never expected so much love {#4031}

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. ” {#4032}

Take June’s Joy Dare?
Print it for the fridge and dare everyone in the family to find these 3 gifts from His hand each day:


Click here to print June’s Joy Dare! Put it on the fridge! Dare the Kids!
And begin this week — this month-– right!

Count three gifts a day, 1000 gifts in 2012 (and be entered to win the NikonD90 camera?)

Thank-you is a word that can change you, your world — the whole world!

HOW TO ENTER JUNE’S GIVEAWAY: (The Winner of May’s Joy in a basket is Lynn Pottenger … thank you for giving Him thanks for the gifts, Lynn!)

Each day of June, either share your gifts on on Twitter {label with #1000gifts #JoyDare so we can find you!}, or with us in the gratitude community at Facebook , or on Pinterest (#1000gifts).

Each day, 3 people will who share their gifts via Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest will be randomly selected & entered into a drawing for JOY BASKET: a gift card @ Amazon {100$} & {signed copies of One Thousand Gifts, the photographic gift book, the DayBrightner, and the family gratitude journal} Give thanks to Him in the assembly!

Join us? And happily change everything by keeping your own crazy list of One Thousand Gifts?

Please, jump in, make your life about giving thanks to God! — 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 in our refrain of thanks by sharing the community’s graphic within your post.

Give thanks to the Lord! His Love Endures Forever!

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