It’s Thursday night.

It’s cold and late and I think everyone is tired when we pile in the van and head for home. Last hugs were given and goodbyes were said. And it will be weeks before we see my younger brother and his new wife* again. The excitement and happiness from their wedding is still trickling down and settling in and yet already it’s time to say goodbye. It feels weird to say goodbye again so soon. We’ll miss them both so much.

And I’m listening to music on my head-phones and the kids are chattering away, high on sugar and needing to be in bed. I listen to melodies that make my heart hurt with beauty and watch the darkness speed past my window.

It’s cold and crisp and the stars are brilliant in the sky above the back country roads we drive along tonight. I love watching the farms rolling by in the darkness, snow-covered fields pale and white beneath the canopy of stars. It takes my breath away at times. I can see the dipper and millions of other stars that I’ll never be able to count or name – but I know Someone who can and does. And I know that this is such a gift tonight: the landscape of a departing winter, beautiful in its last hurrah.

So, I’m counting and naming blessings, as He counts and names the stars and I know I’ll never catch up to Him, I’ll never believe and see as many blessings as He does, whether stars or other gifts and blessings – but still I count and still I name.

Because He never stops giving.

221. “Eternity” she says when I ask the three-year-old how much she loves me. (This is especially special because lately she’s given me the stink eye and silent treatment every time I talk to her – I tell you she’s more thirteen going on thirty than three!)
222. The first RSVP cards arriving back in the mail (squee!)
223. a shoulder to cry on when I’m overtired
224. my dad who helped with invitations by leaving his DNA on the envelopes (*grin* his words not mine!)
225. projects finished, leaving me feeling accomplished
226. a packet of photographs arrived in the mail
227. exciting new books to read, all from the library
228. last hugs goodbye…and knowing (hoping) they’ll be back soon
229. a new sister (in-law) and daughter (in-law) added to the family, yay!
230. stars and snow-covered fields
231. six kitchen chairs and a stove for our home
232. glimpses of my love in the workweek
233. spring rain and disappearing mountains of snow
234. a vase full of violet tulips and one purple-hued lily
235. photographs of bouquets and a little flower shop on Main St.

*It sounds weird to say it, but we’ve seen more of his Caitlin than we’ve seen my brother over the last year. Military life is like that and we’ve gotten used to missing him, in a way, and now we’ve got to get used to not seeing her. Here’s to hoping they both can come back for the next family wedding in May…