smartphone-365072_1280“Okay, one last jumping extravaganza then clean up.” Sarah pulled her pink phone out of her sweatshirt pocket. She took a few short videos before a shiver shook her hands. Stiff fingers brought her zipper back up under her chin. The temperature had dropped.

“Time to move the leaf piles to the curb. I’ve got whipped cream for our hot chocolate.” A cheer went up from her four children and they bent to the task.

Her helpers tumbled behind her in to the back hall along with a mix of fresh air and moldy leaves.

“I’m gonna be first.”

“Oh no you’re not. I am.”

“You’re both wrong ‘cause I’m fastest.”

She sighed with a smile as she stepped into the kitchen and opened the old side-by-side refrigerator. “Make sure you hang up your jackets and put on your slippers.”

bar-405932_1280She watched her crew hop onto their stools behind the butcher block island. “Wendy, you need a tissue for that nose. And all of you need to wash your hands.”

Their scurrying included a bit of pushing and shoving, but they were headed in the right direction.

Her voice rose above the bedlam. “Make sure you use soap.” She giggled. “I’ll verify.” Thankful for the extra gallon of whole milk, she filled the dented saucepan and set it on the stove. She flipped the burner to medium she stirred in the chocolate mix. By the time the mugs were lined up, so was her brood.

“I can hardly wait.” Wendy displayed her clean palms. “I’m freezing.”

Jonathan elbowed his younger sister. “You’re always cold. Maybe you should stay inside.” The sensitive third-grader touched her fingers to her lips as tears appeared.

Before Sarah could react, her middle son pushed his brother from the opposite side, nearly unseating him. “Hey, quit it. Boys are supposed to take care of girls.” He glared at his big brother. “You know that.”

Sarah opened her mouth to keep Jonathan from retaliating. He held himself in check so she changed direction. “Thank you, Peter. That’s right. Boys are supposed to take care of girls.” She placed the pink mug in front of Wendy then distributed the others to her three sons.

hot-chocolate-1947765_1280She went about squirting whipped cream into each mug and Joey leaned across toward her. “Why do we have to rake the leaves to the curb? If we kept them in the yard, we could jump in them again and again.”

“That’s a great question.” She let the aroma of her own hot drink warm her nose. “Do any of you know?”

A cheery smile took over Wendy’s sad face. “That’s easy. Because the dead leaves hurt the grass.”

Jonathan straightened in seventh-grade style. “When they’re alive leaves give us fresh oxygen. When it gets cold their chlorophyll, that’s the green stuff, disappears. They stop doing their job and might as well fall off the tree.”

“In the woods the leaves rot into the ground and help other plants.” Peter wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “But they would ruin the lawn we work so hard to keep nice.”

“It would still be fun to keep them to play in.” Joey’s chocolate mustache twitched.

Wendy winced. “Not when they got wet and yucky . . . and ugly.”


A short time later the children headed to the den for a video game session. Sarah gathered the empty mugs and wiped the sticky wood surface with a red and white dishcloth. Her insides warmed as the joyous sounds of companionship drifted down the hallway. It was a blessing to watch their relationships get back on track.

fall-foliage-1728271_1280The conversation about the leaves led her thoughts to her husband’s desertion. Eight months of trying to sort out what she’d done wrong or what she could do to fix it had taken a toll.

“Lord, could it be time to rake the dead relationship to the curb and let the lawn of my life breathe and grow?” She closed the dishwasher and went to join the fun.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” Isaiah 43:18-19

What frustration do you need to set aside in order to enjoy God’s promises in 2017?
Share your answer in the Comments.

The LORD‘s blessings on you as you seek Him this coming year.

Looking to The Lamb who became The Shepherd,

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