Ribbons of grace…{or can you feel the love tonight}

Salt Lake City UtahSometimes the very best gifts in life don’t come wrapped in ribbons.

Rather they stretch out over a ribbon of roadways connecting hearts here with hearts there.

And it’s not only the destination, but the journey. The moments in the miles that together make up a gift like no other.

My 53rd birthday wrapped in ribbons of grace with love oozing out the edges and seeping deep into my heart.

And all those hugs. And kisses.

“I’ve missed you, Mom! Wish you were staying longer!”

A blessing beyond words that will long linger in the secret places of my mother’s heart.

Yet it’s not just my kids {three wonderful sons, a lovely daughter-in-law and two beautiful girlfriends} that made this birthday truly memorable.

But more the loving sacrifice of Dearest Husband who drove 2,200 miles to bring me and my babies together for my birthday. All the while dealing with a chronic sinus issue which literally prevents breathing through his nose. When I told him a few days before we left {and meant it though it would have broken my heart} that we could cancel the trip if he felt it would be too much, he wouldn’t hear of it.

Instead, relying on the grace of God to see him through.

And making pit stops all along the way whenever my heart wanted to explore. Him fueled by his love of God and his very dear love for me.

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of my precious husband.

And when we arrived, he said that it would have all been worth it just to see the looks on my kids’ faces as we reunited!

So overwhelmingly good to be scooped up into the arms of these big men whose once tiny bodies lived under my heart.

Mother and sons. Special bond of love lasting.

Thank you, Lord, for your grace, and for all my gifts abundant.

And in a world where adult children too often choose to turn their back on parents, wanting nothing to do with them, I especially thank God for the love and relationship I share with my three sons and now, three darling girls.

God is so very good.

Especially when I glance back for a moment and recall my wrongs during the growing up years. Those years when I, through trial and error sometimes very sinful, was growing up alongside my children. Yet His grace made up for my lack and covered over all of us with unending love, forgiveness and guidance, holding us tenderly through the hard.

I will repay you for the years the locusts have stolen…
You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has worked wonders for you;
never again will my people be shamed.
Then you will know that I am in Israel,
that I am the Lord your God,
and that there is no other…
Joel 2:25-27

And I cannot thank God enough for all of this. Blessings upon blessings that I pray extend to a thousand generations…

Utah State CapitolBirthday dawned sunshiny bright with breezes warm sweeping over the majestic Salt Lake City landscape. Amazing beauty unlike anything I have ever seen. Sheltered life {and limited finances} keeping me close to home most of my days, not venturing further west than Harrisburg, PA.

Until this wonderful road trip across America.Salt Lake City, UT

But there I was in the Beehive State with mountains looming everywhere I looked!

Sugar House Park, Salt Lake City, UTMountains of grace surrounding me.

And the summit is love.

His love cascading down like a waterfall.

All over us. Drenching us in His unmerited favor. Filling hearts to overflowing.

And after a day filled with visits to our beloved children, and a gift from son #2 and his Kimmi of an acupuncture session where serene Asian music lulled me to sleep, we all gathered round a table for eight at the charming Oasis Cafe.

Together, hearts tethered by ribbons of love.

Oasis Cafe, Salt Lake City, UtahAnd how we loved and how we laughed that evening!

Laughing hard. And laughing some more.

Sharing stories from my sons’ childhood such as son #3 igniting a near panic in his mom with his pyrotechnic exploration at age 8! {He set the seat of his desk chair on fire and then quietly got a towel all wet and put out the flames before the smell of something burning sent me flying!}

A lovely heartfelt toast from a lovely girl over a shared bottle of Birdman Pinot Grigio. And from the heart of a husband who loves me more dearly than anyone ever has, and eyes misty.

Hugs and kisses, and more hugs and kisses.

Lots of photos to capture moments precious.

Delicious food, organic and local. And for desert, silky smooth, lavender infused Panna Cotta. A first time treat for me, sure to be repeated. Totally yum!

And lots of wishing that the night would never end.

Later as Dearest Husband snoozed contentedly, I journaled with music playing softly in the background. The Lord reminded me of a prayer vision from long ago, after a family of five became a family of four and all our hearts shattered.

I “saw” myself with my then husband round a table surrounded by my sons and their wives. We all loved the Lord. And we were all laughing. Hard to believe then that this vision might ever come to pass.

Perhaps my birthday in Utah was the first installment of that dream coming true? With a wish and a prayer that we will always be heart close surrounded by God’s love, and maybe one day geographically close?

Closing my journal and heading back to bed, that lovely tune from the Lion King “just happened” to be playing and I whispered, “Yes Lord. I can absolutely feel the love tonight. Thank you, Father.”

As I pen this post a week after my birthday, gifts filled with love of little ones all grown up surround me: flowers carefully transported across the mountains from #1 son and his wife, a special tea cup with polka dot spoon used each day for first morning tea from #3 son and his girlfriend, and a rose quartz affectionately dubbed Rosie Q. from #2 son and his girlfriend.

Rosie was passed round to each of us to hold for a moment when we were all together out West, so far from home base in the Hudson Valley. Closing our eyes, we took turns thinking loving thoughts into this pale pink gemstone hand fashioned by God himself. A mineral known for its heart healing properties. A beautiful symbol of the love our hearts share across the many miles.

And when I miss them sorely {like all the time!!} I hold Rosie for a moment.

Close my eyes.

Feel the love.

Love of God. Love for each other.

Blessed gift of family all together.

And the sweetest memories of my best birthday ever wash over my heart brimming with gratitude to God, the One from whom all blessings flow…

~sheila

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Song dedicated to the darlings of my heart:  My Michael, and Matt & Tiffany, Ben & Kimmi, Dan & Alicia. With all my love forever…thank you.

 

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Ribbons of grace…{or can you feel the love tonight}

  1. Sheila, this is absolutely wonderful!
    I so loved your photos and the commentary. Your style is so engaging…I feel as if I was there with you all.
    What precious memories….and dare I say, the reason ypyu have such a wealth of love and people who showered you with a beautiful bday is b/c you are a Mom who showed them this love growing up? Your kids’ choices of souses illustrate this as well…how beautiful!

    Thank you for sharing this link with me…it took me so long to click over. The summer;s been awfully busy…but GOOD. Full and crazy. We also went camping upstate in the Adirondacks recently…packing, unpacking, etc took a lot of time. But I am so happy I finally got to come over and share in your special day!

    Thank you!
    God bless!