Misty Garrison » Gathered Fragments

Abundance is…

…a house full of friends on Friday night.

…the cacophony of children’s voices.

…the spilled drinks.

…the ultimate photo bomb (cause you know I was trying to capture the table overflowing with children).

…the essence of a child’s personality in a picture.

How fitting it seems that my last abundance post almost a year ago was of the “morning after” with these same friends. How abundant indeed. But only made possible by the opening of the door of our home & the vault of our hearts.

“What people are craving isn’t perfection. People aren’t longing to be impressed; they’re longing to feel like they’re home. If you create a space full of love and character and creativity and soul, they’ll take off their shoes and curl up with gratitude and rest, no matter how small, no matter how undone, no matter how odd.

So that’s what we do. We throw open the front door and invite people into our home, despite its size, despite its imperfections. We practice hospitality, creating soft and safe places for people to connect and rest.

But it isn’t about perfection, and it isn’t about performance. You’ll miss the richest moments in life – the sacred moments when we feel God’s grace and presence through the actual faces and hands of the people we love – if you’re too scared or too ashamed to open the door. I know it’s scary, but throw open the door anyway…”

~ Shauna Niequest, Bread and Wine.

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He’s completely smitten. She’s as loyal as the furry four-legged companion. And all together they take care of their feathered friends…

We did it, Eliza Jane…
Got the birds fed ahead of the rain
And the cold that it will send.
Sneaked out before grandma could mend
Our ways and make us walk
…the line with ‘proper’ talk
That our outside friends needn’t abide.
They’ll let those formalities ride…
With your Big Sis to school,
Where she’ll memorize the Golden Rule,
Tho not necessarily apply the Same
To ‘friends’ who are not so game
As well-intentioned she.
Now, you and I, at each other’s knee
Are learning our lessons, desired
To serve Our little friends, so frugally attired:
Some up to the feeder directly fly.
Others fail tho hard they try.
God made big hands to place the seed, just so,
And little ones to spill to the ground, below.
Both serve Him, and them, just as well
The cardinal and the dove can thankfully tell…
Of lessons learned, of precepts taught…
When God’s goodness is simply sought.
~ Grandpa Hughes
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Abundance is…

…morning after evidence on the dining table of the little boys who visited our home.

…a five-year old girl being taught how to slide on her knees {risky business style} down the wood floors in the hallway.

…Friday nights with friends.

…pizza & brownies.

…the simple gift of hospitality.

…life together.

…loving & being loved.

…especially my favorite little fella who pooped his big boy underwear ; ).

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{photo courtesy of Jeff Berg}

It was tough deciding which to write about first ~ Cami or church, church or Cami. Because church was my first real experience with Cami, so they really go together. But there was so much that happened in the sanctuary and my heart that day during church that it really needs a post of its own. So Cami it is!

Fresh off a tiresome day of travel. Hours of standing in the heat going through customs. Another few hours waiting on the bus for “those other girls” to join us. Playing high speed chicken through Port Au Prince. A sleepless night listening to that dear rooster crow. Before the praises even reached the roof top, I came face to face with my Lord. But first, a little background information.

I know it may surprise some of you all, but I have issues. Some serious, some not so much. But all with the capability of rendering me useless for the kingdom if I allow them to reign. Where I am gifted, I’m gifted. And where I am not, I’m NOT. Just so happens that handling severe disabilities with grace is one of the many areas in which I am lacking. Although God used a little season of working in a developmentally delayed pre-k class to bring me along, it is still not my strong suit.

Church on Sunday morning in Haiti. I find myself sitting on the end of an aisle. And who do you think they wheel right up beside me? Precious, beautiful, amazing Cami. My heart panics just a bit. Really, Lord? Now? We are going to do this already? The first day here and you are working on me like this? Are you sure? Shouldn’t I get a warm up lesson first?

And then the real questions. Will I be enough? Can I do this? And the truth is no I won’t and no I can’t. But he is and he will. He always does. And so I look into her face & smile. And what do I receive in return for my meager efforts? The most radiant smile this side of heaven. And I get to look into the deep brown eyes of Jesus. Because he is there. In her. Smiling back at me. Knowing that I am far more broken than she. “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me'” (Matthew 25:40).

And as I look down at our arms intertwined ~ a chocolate and vanilla candy cane, I am overcome. And undone. The veil has been removed and I am standing in the Holy of Holies. All the while wondering to myself, “Who am I, Lord, that you are mindful of me?” (Psalm 8:4). That you would consider me “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). That you would orchestrate my life in such a way to place me here in this moment for the honor & privilege of ministering to you in her.

In the small village of Neply, Haiti on a bright Sunday morning. I stroked Cami’s arm. I cradled Cami’s hand in mine. I smiled with Cami’s smile. I took hold of her head with both my hands and gently placed it upright again in her chair. Again & again. All the while singing praises with my Haitian brothers and sisters. Tears of joy streaming down my face.

And suddenly I realized the meaning of the verse in Ephesians 2 that says, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus…” I finally understood the mystery of how I could be here with her and up there with him at the same time.

Thank you, Cami. For smiling when I smile. And loving unconditionally. For welcoming my touch. And showing me Jesus. Thank you.

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Way back when I initially became interested in photography, one of my first photog crushes was Tara Whitney. I immediately fell in awe of her “perfectly, imperfect” philosophy and journalistic style. While following her work on her blog, I stumbled upon this personal project she called “six people twelve times.” And I have been wanting to do our family’s version ever since. That was back in 2010. When there were three. Have tried off & on over the years, but it is harder than it seems to get a decent family snapshot each month. Here we go again. This picture was taken by my sister after Lou’s 5th bday party with family. As you can see little is crashing down hard from her earlier sugar high and all the activity.

January…

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I was so excited when I saw how good this picture turned out. I even thought to myself for a moment, “What a perfect little family.” But looks can be deceiving right? I mean, don’t get me wrong. We are extremely happy & abundantly blessed. But those smiles don’t tell the full story. We have suffered years of heartache & pain to get to this point. Holding those two precious ones. But God redeems.

And even now, those smiles hide much brokenness. For each & every one of us. Therein lies the paradox: utterly happy and completely broken. Marred by the fallen nature of this world. Each of us in our own personal struggle against sin. And, as I watch how my own struggle can effect the people whom I love dearly, I am deeply humbled and desperately driven to the cross. And my precious Jesus. And for that I can thank him even for my failures. Daily. Moment by moment. And God redeems.

For like Paul when he pleaded to God three times to remove the thorn from his flesh, I hear the Lord say, “’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12: 9-10). Yes, God always redeems.

“Christ is building His kingdom with earth’s broken things. Men want only the strong, the successful, the victorious, the unbroken, in building their kingdoms; but God is the God of the unsuccessful, of those who have failed. Heaven is filling with earth’s broken lives, and there is no bruised reed that Christ cannot take and restore to glorious blessedness and beauty. He can take the life crushed by pain or sorrow and make it into a harp whose music shall be all praise. He can lift earth’s saddest failure up to heaven’s glory.” ― J.R. Miller

May it be so in the lives of this family and yours.

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Abundance is…

…a tiny helper in the house.

…a mundane moment filled with glorious blessing.

…the difficulties of motherhood.

…always choosing joy.

…praying continually.

…giving thanks in all circumstances.

“It is supposed by some that religion makes people solemn, takes the sunshine out of their life, the joy out of their heart, the song out of their mouth. But the reverse of this is the truth. No other one in the world has such secrets of joy as has the Christian. Christ teaches his followers to rejoice. He bids them rejoice even in sorrow and trial.” ~ J.R. Miller

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She turned 20 months this week. Every day with her is a celebration of gratitude to the choice her birth mom made in giving her life. And her gift to us ; ). Not to mention little’s love of babies. Her paci. Those eyelashes! And her very first “black” eye (with her adventurous nature I’m sure there will be more). All simple things worth celebrating…

Linking up with Rebecca’s Simple things Sunday photo party over at Simple As That. Click on the link below to view more beauty in the simple things.

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