Monday, December 16, 2013

Word Love Ornaments

Do you have any Scrabble lovers or word lovers on your gift list?

We picked up an old Scrabble set at the thrift store. It was missing an "i" and an "n," but that didn't matter for our project. We spread out the letters and made up as many words as we could related to Christmas. We had a set of the stands left over from a different craft project (coasters out of letters for another daughter). We divided them up, deciding how to fit them on the stands.
 I used hot glue to stick them on. You will see I am no expert with the glue gun. I quickly learned I had to work very fast to get the letters on straight.

Our son cut the stands on his scroll saw, then sprayed them with a varnish.
I attached the cord with the glue gun, making them into ornaments.
We will hang them on our tree, then let the kids pick which one they want to keep. (spoiler alert...)

Old Scrabble games are great to pick up at the thrift store - lots of uses for the wooden tiles. We will keep an eye out for more Scrabble sets whenever we are at the thrift store.  There are so many more good words we could use to tell stories of Christmas.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Light Shines

"And God said, 'Let there be light,'...
"In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

Genesis 1: 3
John 1: 4 - 5

The Sunday Community

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A New Word

Two dentist appointments gave me my word for 2014.

I was not even looking for it - yet - this early, weeks away from 2014. Tell me it is still a long time until the New Year, right?

Quiet was my word for 2013. I am not a perfectly accomplished expert on "quiet." But it helped. I learned.


Our son went in for his dental cleaning and evaluation for those last six baby teeth that are causing double rows and misalignment. The diagnosis: wiggle wiggle wiggle those babies out.

The hygienist, Lisa, worked with him with patience and calm. As she concluded with his all-around x-ray, she mentioned she has an autistic son, and I understood her patience and gentleness.

The next morning, it was my turn. A deep cleaning, those pointy metal tools digging in under my gums, scraping. Lovely.

We had a pleasant conversation, probably taking more of her time than we should have because we connected, deeply. Lisa told me of her son, his struggles at school, scenarios with him in public, challenges at home with his attitudes. Although our son's situations are quite different, she recognized similarities and expressed her sensitivity (except on my gums - but that was her job).

And there was the word, with a quiet, "Ta-dah!"

Above all, she wants her son to know that he is welcome. No matter how others react to him, no matter what happens, he is welcome with her, a part of their family, in their home. She saw in us, our son and me, a similar attitude of welcome.

I think of, and work toward acceptance, but welcome has deeper levels. As I thought of the meanings of welcome, I sketched out this list:
  • invitation
  • listen
  • greet
  • hospitality
  • accept
  • honor
  • open the door
  • prepare a place
  • open heart
  • willing
  • focus on the people
  • time together
  • not too busy
  • flexibility
  • receive
  • give
The more I thought of it, there is another list. To welcome these, too:
  • inconveniences
  • interruptions
  • disappointment
  • discouragement
  • pain
  • challenges
  • criticism
  • imperfections
  • inconsistencies
  • frustrations
  • inadequacies
  • blame
  • shame
When I want to close the door - or rather (to be honest), to slam this door on uncomfortable things, my first response should be to welcome them. Ouch. Tough to do. I have much to learn.

I'm sure you could add your own ideas to these lists. What else do you think of?


I grabbed one of the refrigerator magnets to stick on the grocery list. In my hand was a cross-stitched house, underneath, the word, "Welcome." Our daughter made it years and years ago. I saw it with new eyes, new heart, and I had to smile. How many years have I seen and used that magnet, thinking only of hospitality? 

Now, it will be a reminder to welcome the good and the uncomfortable in my days and in the people and relationships around me. Our dental hygienist opened a door for me. A door with a wider perspective, a fresh view of what it means to welcome the gifts of each day. Even when those gifts are challenging and I would rather slam that door. Welcome them. Welcome the work of each day. Welcome those in my home. Welcome - throw my arms wide and say, "Welcome, come on in. Let's talk."

Thank you, Lisa. 

Emily Freeman, Chatting at the Sky, is hosting a link up, Tuesdays Unwrapped. "To write about an ordinary day and the miracle secret it holds."

Have you considered a theme word for 2014 yet?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Thanksgiving Short Story

Last year I posted this short story, "A Messy Thanksgiving." In a perfect world, I would write a new story for this year. Yeah, that didn't happen. I would make some edits, but decided, for simplicity and sanity, to use it as is. Hope it inspires you to expect and accept changes, do what you can, keep an open heart, and laughter with a touch of whimsy.


Sandy finished the Thanksgiving grocery shopping in the pet department, piling two ten pound bags of peanuts on the already overloaded grocery cart. She smiled. No one would be able to guess what I am going to do with these, she thought.

At home, she organized the food, checked off her lists. This Thanksgiving dinner for eighteen would appear effortless. But, of course, it wasn’t. The work happened now, before. She had separate lists, all organized and thought out, what preparations needed to be made in what order. Some of the family would be arriving late Wednesday night and she wanted to be ready, then.

With the wood floors swept, the furniture moved back against the walls, she turned her dining room table at an angle, assembled the two folding tables and pushed them end to end at an angle across her dining room and living room.

At three o’clock the stake bed truck pulled up out front. She met the two delivery guys at the door.

“Where do you want these bales, ma’am?”

“In here, by these tables.”

“Inside the house, ma’am?” His eyebrows disappeared under the hair hanging over his forehead.

“Yes, they will be the seats for our Thanksgiving dinner.”

“Inside. Really? You know these straw bales are dusty, dirty, messy, right?”

Sandy laughed. “Of course. Yes, bring them in here, please, four on this side, four on the other side. Thank you.”

“Okay, whatever you say. It’s your house.” The tough delivery guys looked at each other and shrugged.
As the bales were moved, wisps of straw floated around.
“Sorry, ma’am.”

“No problem, that’s exactly what I want. Messy.”

“My wife would have a fit.”

Sandy laughed again. She wanted an unusual, a casual atmosphere. Unique. A memory. And they didn’t know about the peanut shells, broken open, scattered around. She felt like a giddy girl planning a surprise party for a special friend. A party where everyone has a good time and laughter echoes off the walls accompanied by the music of happy talk. Okay, she thought, maybe I am dreaming and being unrealistic. We haven’t had a peaceful family get together in quite awhile. Someone takes offense, someone irritates someone else, criticism flares. But, it is worth a try. I will do my part, and hope.

Everything would be white or canvas or gold. Enough color, just in the food. And the people.  The gold colored straw looked pretty scattered across the wood floor.  She pulled more pieces off the bales and scattered them around. Then, she covered the bales with canvas drop cloths, their edges tucked in underneath. They would be heavy enough to prevent straw poking seated bottoms. Another couple of longer drop cloths covered the tables, hanging down the sides. Gourds she had spray painted gold were placed randomly on the table.

 Oh, napkins. She forgot to buy white cloth napkins. Well, on Wednesday, when she picked up the flowers, she could go to the store and get the nicer, heavy, white paper ones. They would do. She added them to the list.


When Sandy walked down the hall into the living room Tuesday morning, she wondered what her husband, Jim would think of their house. He was away on a business trip until Wednesday afternoon. By then, she would have it all set up and messy beautiful. Her email invitations said, “Boots and jeans.” But would they imagine just how casual she meant it to be?  The floor needed more peanut shells, just like at their favorite pizza restaurant. In fact, she thought, that is where they should go for dinner Wednesday night. She would take Jim out to dinner. Get a few more ideas. Her son and his wife and the grandkiddos wouldn’t get in until late. She and Jim would have plenty of time to relax over dinner, talk about his trip, and enjoy some time together before the long weekend.

After her coffee and oatmeal, she spread the three lists out on the island, leaned on her elbows, her shirt sleeves rolled up, chin cupped in her hands. One list for what would bake in the oven. One for food that would be prepared and stored in the refrigerator.  One for menus, with added ideas for meals the rest of the weekend using leftovers. The tasks were already in order, prioritized by length of prep time and use of the oven. Normally she wasn’t quite so OCD, but she wanted this Thanksgiving to be easy breezy.  Certain people conflicts in the family had lightened up over the past year and she wanted, desperately, to be sure they stayed that way. But, not to worry. For now, start the pie crusts and mix the pumpkin bread. Turn on the oven.

Between tasks, waiting for the timer to ding, Sandy worked on the table. At each place setting she set out white plates. For place cards, she marked peanuts with a dark brown Sharpie, the letters of each person’s name. If the letters didn’t come out quite right, she smashed the shells and threw them on the floor. It wasn’t easy. She tried to make them fancy, ornate with swirly lines and flourishes. The bumpy shells were not a good writing surface, but she wanted to keep the theme. She decided that messy looked just as good, and it was better to fit each name on one peanut if she could. She experimented. Greg. Kendra. David. The longest name was Jessica. That took two peanuts. As she practiced and improved, the crunched, empty peanut shells deepened on the floor.

All day, the dishes rotated from island to sink full of soapy water and back again. Pie crusts baked. Pumpkin and cranberry breads ready to go in next. Sweet potatoes cooked, mixed, plopped into the baking pan, refrigerated until Thursday. Broccoli steamed, cheese sauce mixed, refrigerated in its glass baking pan. Water boiled, jello mixed with fruit, half of it chilled, then the other layer added and chilled. One by one, the items checked off her list. She wiped up flour and spills and splatters, then made more as she worked.

For a late lunch, she made a sandwich and sat in the big chair tucked into the corner to admire her decorations, absorb the yummy smells. Bake the pies, almost done. She relaxed, imagined the room full of happy, comfortable people. To her, this work, this weekend, was about reaching across the distance that was measured in more than miles.

As she was sliding the last pie shell full of liquid pumpkin on to the rack, her hand slipped, the pie tilted and spilled on the hot oven floor. It sizzled and smoked. Quickly, she set the pie on the counter and reached over to shut off the oven. That would have to cool before she could clean it out, then reheat it. She didn’t want the smell of burned pie overpowering the other wonderful aromas and interfere with baking the turkey Thanksgiving morning. She left the oven door open to cool faster. Well, it won’t take that long, she thought. She checked over her lists again. Almost done.  Not too bad, only one major mess to repair, then finish cleaning up the kitchen.

The cat came down the hall and stepped into the living room. She stopped and sat, looking around at the changes, unsure. She decided it was safe, took a few steps into the room. A peanut shell crunched under her foot. With the foot held in mid-air, she froze, like a dog at point, then turned and ran back to the bedroom. Sandy laughed at her. We won’t have to worry about her coming out here, she thought.


By noon, she felt ready. Almost. A few more tasks on her list, but everything was under control. She had cleaned the bathrooms, made up the guest beds, and swept off the porch, trimming some of the chrysanthemums that still bloomed. The day was cold and cloudy. At least I don’t have to sweep and wash the floors, she thought. She wiped down the front of the refrigerator and the stove and ran a dust cloth over the glass table top next to the couch. She looked forward to seeing the six grandkiddos all together. They hadn’t seen Greg’s twins since June. David, Becky and their two boys lived ten minutes away and they visited often. Jack and Kendra, with their two, Jessica and Ken, lived an hour away, not too far. Greg would be arriving tonight, the others in the morning. A houseful of noisy fun. She liked that.

Three o’clock. One last check of the lists. All crossed off. One trip out. She would stop at the florist to pick up the white osteospermum spoon daisies she ordered. And run into the grocery store to pick up the large white napkins she forgot to buy on Monday. She would tie them into a roll with a piece of twine. Easy and simple.

Later, as she stepped in the door, out of the pouring rain, arms full of flowers and a grocery bag, the phone rang. She set the things down on the table. Dropped her wet coat on a chair.



“Hi Greg. I thought you would be on the road by now.”

“Mom. I am sorry. We are not coming.”

Silence. “You are kidding, right?”

“No, Mom, we are not coming.”

Silence. “Do I get an explanation?”

Greg answered in short, nervous, quick bursts. “Janet decided she wanted to have her own Thanksgiving. You know, in her own home, now that we have moved to this house, she changed her mind, said she wouldn’t come, wanted to stay home, keep the kids here, with her, on her time off from work, for the holiday.”

“Well, that is reasonable, except last minute. What can I say? Is this about not getting along with Kendra?”

“No, I don’t think so. Maybe, you know how they are together. She just said she wanted her own Thanksgiving. Mom, try to understand. I know you will understand. Please don’t be upset at me, or her.”

“I will really miss seeing the twins. I’m sure they have grown since we saw them last.” Sandy sighed. She tried to smile, at least with her words, but it was hard. Seemed these conflicts, lately, made family gatherings like walking on egg shells, afraid to offend, afraid to say the wrong thing, afraid, just afraid. She had wanted this to be different. And she thought it would be. Filled with laughter and fun and relaxed. Oh well, what could she do? Holidays could be messy. “Greg,” she said, “Say hello to the twins from me, and Janet, too, and have a wonderful holiday.” She didn’t mean it to sound sarcastic, but it came out that way, a little bit.
“You, too, Mom. Say hi to Dad for me.”

Sandy hung up the phone. She sat in the chair at the head of the table, looked down the length at the plates, already set, the golden gourds, the pile of flowers she had dumped at the other end. Four empty places. Should she rearrange? Wallow in disappointment? No, she thought, I’ll get the flowers in vases and water. No point in letting this ruin it for me, or for anyone else.

Outside, the rain pelted the windows and the wind whipped the tree limbs. Darkness fell early, the storm clouds wrapping a dark thick blanket over the sky. Again, the phone rang. Sandy looked at it, not wanting to answer. She heard her own voice, the cheerful message on the machine. Then, Jim’s voice.

“Sandy. Guess you are out shopping or something last minute. Our flight has been delayed…”

She grabbed the phone, interrupting his message. “Jim, I am here, sorry.”

“Oh, good, glad you are home. This storm is interfering with flights. I hope Greg will be fine on the road.”

“They are not coming. I’ll tell you later. When do you think you will get in?”

“They said about a two hour delay. I will call you when we board.”

“Okay. I want to take you out to dinner, to the pizza restaurant. I will meet you there, after you land.”

“Sounds good. I’ll call you, soon, I hope.”

“Be careful.”

Someone knocked on the front door. Oh, now who could that be, thought Sandy. She opened the door and saw her neighbor, an older woman she rarely talked to. “Evelyn, come in.” She helped her take off her wet coat.

“I am so sorry to bother you. I know you are very busy.” Evelyn looked at the table. “That is, ah, interesting. Straw bales and peanuts?  Rustic. But the table is pretty. I am so sorry to bother you,” she said again.

“That’s okay. My husband just called to say he would be late. Come sit down.”

“Well, we just had a big tree branch fall on the back of our house. Broke through the patio cover, broke two windows on the back side.”

“Oh, I am sorry. Where is Fred, is he okay?”

“Yes, we were in the living room. I wondered if you have some tarp or something we can put up over the windows. Not too much rain is coming in, but the wind is bad. And the cold.”

“I think so, I will go look in the garage.” She stood up. “Evelyn. I just had a great idea. Our son and his family called to say they are not coming. We have extra beds, all made up, and room at the table, ready. Will you and Fred stay here tonight, and join us for Thanksgiving tomorrow?”

“We couldn’t impose on you like that, don’t be silly.”

“It is not silly at all. Like I said, I have the beds all made, the places for you at the table. It will be much warmer here until you can get the windows fixed. Jim can help you, but with the holiday weekend, it may be a few days before they get fixed. Please, stay with us. That is, if you don’t mind a casual meal. And our kids and grandchildren. I thought the straw bales and peanuts would be fun, for a change. Comfortable.”

“I noticed. Wondered why you were doing that. Most people get all fancy.”

“I will get the tarp, then we’ll go over and ask Fred to come. Please, I want you to. I know Jim won’t mind. He will like to help you fix the tarp when he gets home. Oh.”

“What is it?” asked Evelyn.

“Well, we were going to go out to dinner. I was going to meet him after his plane landed.”

“I have a chili in the crock pot at home. Fred and I could still eat that, and come here after you and Jim get home. I would appreciate it, being able to stay here. It will be cold at our house with that wind and the damp. You are very kind.”

“Actually, it helps me not feel so disappointed that our son isn’t coming. I am glad you can stay with us. Very glad. You can see we have plenty of room for you.” Sandy pointed at the table.

“We will be honored. I wasn’t going to fix anything this year. Too much work for just us. Our kids are all busy, or too far away. We will enjoy being with you, being with your family. Much better than sitting by ourselves. Thank you.”

The scattered straw and peanut shells are evidence of my messy life, but even the messes are worth celebrating and sharing, Sandy thought.  I will accept this. An opportunity to help a neighbor, maybe gain a friend. I can enjoy what we have, use what we have, and share Thanksgiving, thankfully, with family and friends.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Salt and Fun

Today we are cleaning and doing the prep work for our Thanksgiving Celebration. Tomorrow is about cooking ahead, having everything we can prepared ahead of the big day so we can relax and enjoy the arrivals and full house.

I needed another pie plate. Usually, my mom would cook some of the pies, but this year we are three states away from them. Two chocolates, two pumpkins, one apple. I was one short. Where are all my pie plates?

Those of you who know I love plants and gardening would probably guess where to look. Yup. Under some of the plants I brought in to the basement when the temperatures plummeted and the first flakes fell.

The pie plate aka water catcher was water stained with crusty build-up. Yucky. I tried cleanser, no good. The oven cleaner I use has salt in it, and I remembered cleaning the inside of water-marked vases with salt. Tried it - yes! It took some scrubbing, but the pie plate shined when I was done. It looked better than my other pie plates, so they got the salt treatment too. Shiny, squeaky clean pie plates, ready for tomorrow's baking marathon.

This refrigerator magnet from Mary Engelbreit is my reminder, my theme song for this weekend as our varied crew assembles from three states. As we accept and enjoy our imperfections. I don't know any non-dysfunctional families, do you? We certainly aren't on that list.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your (most likely) less than perfect family. Enjoy them!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Call Me

"Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known."

Jeremiah 33:3 ESV
A Bible teacher I had in high school called this the Lord's phone number: JER 33-3.

(Does anyone else remember when phone numbers had an alphabetical prefix? When I was little, ours was CI2 - followed by four numbers. I don't remember how old I was when they converted to all numbers, then they added area codes...)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

It's Shoebox Time

Operation Christmas Child, through Samaritan's Purse, is November 18-25.

Pack a shoebox with toys, school supplies, hygiene items, or other fun items for young children. Designate the age your gifts are for, boy or girl, then check on-line or with a local church for drop-off locations. Each box suggests a donation of seven dollars to cover shipping expenses, and if you pay online, you can print out a barcode that will enable you to watch the country destination when your box is delivered. Exciting! Last year, our boxes went to the Philippines. Wonder if those children were affected by the typhoon this year.

The Samaritan's Purse website has lots of information if you have more questions.

For us, this is a good way to start the Christmas season - with a gift, a hand extended out to others around the world. It is a small thing, a small effort, but to a child who may not have much, it will be received with a smile.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


"Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.
Full of splendor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;
the Lord is gracious and merciful."
Psalm 111: 2-4

Friday, November 1, 2013

Mini Mini

In a post last summer I mentioned my attempt to grow mini pumpkins and mini sweet peppers with seeds saved from ones I bought at the store the year before. I didn't know if because of hybridization and all the messing with plants that is done now, if I would see any production from them.

One mini pumpkin and one teeny little pepper. Hardly worth the effort, except for the fun of the experiment. We had a frost earlier this month. I left the mini pumpkin out, hoping the warm weather after the frost would encourage one last really big growth spurt. The plant withered, no more growth. With more frosts threatened, I brought the little guy inside. In an era when big is better, my pumpkin would not win any state fair prizes. Kind of cute, though, like a miniature for a fairy garden.

Perhaps Ichabod Crane would wish that this little pumpkin was hurled at his cranium rather than the head-sized one he encountered on that dark night in Sleepy Hollow?

Thursday, October 31, 2013


October was  rich month of reading and learning. Three books: The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown, a million little ways, by Emily Freeman, and  The Irrational Season, by Madeleine L'Engle. I ended up with random thoughts, notes scribbled on papers, un-tied connections, similar themes. I am a visual learner, part of the reason I write out notes and copy quotes. I needed something to pull it all together, to make sense out of it all, to connect the dots.

Mind-mapping. This tool helps me take a jumble of thoughts and weave them together into a thought tapestry, a way to "see" the thoughts in an ordered visual that makes sense to me.

First, I had to define one word that tied it all together. Well, I ended up with two words.

                                                  IMPERFECT GIFTS

This phrase took thoughts from all three books and gave me a center, a point to start from. After that, I browsed through the notes from the books, picking out main ideas and consistent themes from them. 

As I was writing out the sub-topics, they seemed to flow in a clockwise pattern.
  • reflect the image of God
  • rhythm of the Spirit of God
  • vulnerability
  • weakness
  • wonder
  • show up
  • offer
  • intuition
  • confidence
  • courage
  • connection
The imperfect gifts I create and offer to others are a reflection of the art God has created in me. (Clarification: not that the gifts I receive from the Lord are imperfect - this is about what I do with His perfect gifts to me, in me)

I am looking for a quote from each book to include here. There are too many - like three whole books' worth. 

The Irrational Season is the third book in a series called The Crosswicks Journals. They are each written in a particular season of Madeleine L'Engle's life. For each, she picks one word as a theme. My theme word for this year is "quiet." Her words for her three books are: "Ontological, Ousia, and Anamnesis." And she doesn't consider herself an intellectual. In this last of the three books she thinks and writes through a full year of Christian celebrations with living memory - anamnesis - She writes, "...As I understand anamnesis in my writing, so I understand it in the Holy Mysteries. When we are truly remembering, when we know anamnesis, suddenly the mighty acts of God are present." (These are out of print, but are available on Amazon's used book lists)

Emily Freeman says, "[God] invites you to move with the rhythm of his Spirit. This is a mystery and wonder that is the gospel. He doesn't wait until we are conformed to a version of ourselves that we are pleased with. He comes in to transform us from the inside out."

My gifts, imperfect now, entrusted  to Him, offered as I show up and practice imperfection.

Brene Brown writes, "It reminds me that our imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we're all in this together. Imperfectly, but together."

My mind-map is not complete, not finished. Neither am I. More to learn, more to grow, more to understand. It was intriguing to me that "listen" showed up in three different places on the chart. A reminder to pay attention, to hear and see beyond my limited perspective. This tapestry of thoughts, these lessons, weave creatively into my heart, speaking to me of the Lord's love and extending into my days to give me confidence and courage to reach out.

I am linking with Emily's blog, Chatting At the Sky, sharing a piece of the art created in me this month.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

a million little ways

Have you heard someone say, "She's a real piece of work." Their eyes narrowed, one hand on a hip, the other hand out, finger pointed, their mouth tight, twisted to one side, their nose, elevated.

Have they said it to you?

Are you searching for value, for dignity? For someone to notice, appreciate you and what you do?  (click to see the 1:34 video trailer for her book)

In the brand new book by Emily Freeman, a million little ways, she speaks in her quiet, gentle, graceful (grace full) voice. Not a to-do list of a million things to do. I'm sure you don't need help making that long list. Not lists of ideas of what is art and how to craft it.

 Instead, Emily offers a glimpse into the heart of art. The Creator. A life. A masterpiece. A beautiful creation by a loving Lord. Yes, that would be you.

"...I hope to prove myself a worthy companion, an intuitive observer of the art of God. Still, there is one thing I know for sure: I know you are an image bearer with a job to do. And the simplest description I can come up with for what that means is this: You are art and you make art.
And the only place to begin uncovering what your art looks like is to start right where you are."

She says, "Now, look at Ephesians 2:10. 'For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.'...The English words used in this text - masterpiece, sometimes translated workmanship - these are translations of the original word...poiema. Our English word poem comes from the same Greek word. Workmanship, masterpiece, poem - all these words in Scripture are used to describe God's work - you and me.
"God calls you his workmanship, his poeima. What happens when God writes poetry?
"We do. We happen.
"We are walking poetry, the kind that moves, the kind who has hands and feet, the kind with mind and will and emotion. We are what happens when God expresses himself."

I desperately want to do justice to Emily, to convey to you the heart of her message and encourage you to pursue and learn what she has to offer. The words have layers, like an onion. Peel them back, work deeper, uncover the hidden meanings. And, maybe cry while you are cutting to the heart. One line I particularly appreciate, because it is filled with freedom. "You are a poem, not a robot." Yes, poems have patterns and rules and structure. But also the freedom to create and breathe, heart and soul, within those words.

I could go on quoting, but it would be better if you read the book yourself.

What does this mean for me? How does this change my day, my attitudes, my actions? My art is here. This home, this family, these relationships, as I go through my days, freedom and excitement happen as I create art. Not one perfectly brushed canvas or one perfectly worded manuscript or one perfectly weeded garden, but an expression of who I am, in a million little ways.

Are you a piece of work? Yes, in a wonderful, amazing way.

Thank you, Emily.

The book is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Dayspring.
Emily's blog:

I forgot to mention, Bloom Book Club with (in)courage is hosting a series of interviews with Emily, two days a week, now through Nov 21. You can listen in anytime to hear Emily chat about her book and share her inspiration.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

My Favorite Day

"What day is it?" said Pooh.

"It is today," said Piglet.

"My favorite day," sighed Pooh.

joining Still Saturday at

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hello There

Hello There! I am new around here.

I love to keep everyone very busy. Then I sleep for awhile.

We went to the vet. That was okay. She was friendly and gave me hugs and a treat. But she said I was only three months. Hmmm, thought I was bigger than that.

The other dog here, she is okay. We are learning how to play together, but sometimes she is grumpy and doesn't want me to sleep next to her. So, when I see her going to lie down, I race to the blanket and lie down across it first. Then, she doesn't have to lie next to me. Aren't I nice?

There are two cats, too. One just sleeps all the time. The first day she hissed at me and I got the message, "Leave me alone." The other cat is more interesting. He hisses at me sometimes, but he is more fun to follow around, kinda chasing him. I guess he doesn't know I'm not going to hurt him, I just want to herd him. Maybe I'll grow up to be a famous cat herder. I'm a Border Collie mix, but haven't found any cows or sheep around here. Guess it will have to be the cats.

They buy me cool doggy toys to keep me busy. But the best toys? A golf wiffle ball - I guess someone is supposed to be practicing their golf game - but I love to toss them off the couch, run and catch them. They are noisy when they bounce on the wood floor, which makes them even more fun.

My people say they love the wood floors. Easy to clean up my accidents. At first, we had trouble. They would open the back door and say, "Go to the bathroom." So, I'd go outside and play, come back inside, run into the bathroom and piddle. They didn't seem to like that. But we are coming to a better agreement now. I do my piddles outside - almost mostly - and they smile and cheer me on. It's a big deal, I guess.

Oh, another really cool toy. It's this box on a small table I can reach. These white paper things stick out of it. I can grab the edge of one with my tiny teeth, pull it out, run to the couch and tear it up. Then, when I go back, there is another paper waiting for me to grab and play with. Perpetual toys, pretty cool entertainment.

Oh, and I am supposed to tell you. The lady here is writing a post about some book, a million little ways, by a cool lady called Emily Freeman (I think she is cool because she has a dog, too). But she (the lady here, that is), is having trouble writing it because she is taking care of me (and the other people and animals in the house) in a million little ways. She'll get it done eventually, bye for now - gotta run - I smell a stinky shoe!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Ordinary Everyday Moments

"I think I learned the most about the value of the ordinary from interviewing men and women who have experienced tremendous loss such as the loss of a child, violence, genocide and trauma. The memories that they held most sacred were the ordinary, everyday moments. It was clear that their most precious memories were forged from a collection of ordinary moments, and their hope for others is that they would stop long enough to be grateful for those moments and the joy they bring."
"Acknowledging that these moments are really what life is about has changed my outlook on work, family, and success."

                                                                                 -Brene Brown
                                                                                   The Gifts of Imperfection

joining along with Still Saturday at

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Morning Watch

"O Lord, in the morning, You hear my voice;
in the morning I direct my prayer to You,
and watch."

Psalm 5:3 (translation from the notes) ESV

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Resilience. What is it? I have been called brave at different points in my life. I never felt brave. I felt tired or weary or overwhelmed, but not brave. Yet, the comment would come again, from another source. "You are so brave."

A morning glory vine poked up and spread its leaves and tendrils on the edge of my walkway to the garden. It was in a bad spot - on the ground, underfoot, no place to climb, but I left it because I loved its perky purple-blue blossoms each morning which glow from within. And, I knew it would be short lived, coming up a few weeks before frost arrived.

The frost came last week. Two nights of twenty-seven and twenty-eight degrees. I moved some of the flower pots in to the garage for protection, and resigned myself to losing the sensitive plants. Sure enough, many of the plants, including the morning glory, were a shriveled, black mushy mess.

I didn't pull up the morning glory vine, mostly because I am really bad about weeding. That is one of my big-time procrastination issues. The days warmed up again, with nights back in the forties. Within two days tiny green shoots came up, and in another day the stems were a foot long. With a new bloom each morning.

 This, to me, is a picture of resilience. Courage. Bravery in adverse circumstances. The quote is perhaps a bit trite, but, it is true. "Bloom where you are planted." Even if frost threatens or the situation is less than ideal for your growth. Grow and bloom.
frost damage, new growth

I am reading my way through The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown. She writes and studies shame resilience and vulnerability. Not an easy, fun book to read. But good. It is a needed message in our culture of stress.

She describes resilience as "the ability to overcome adversity...the ability to bounce back." How do we cultivate a resilient spirit? Well, I can't explain it - yet. Working on that. I love watching the morning glory each day, looking out the window to see if it is blooming. If the sun isn't up yet, there is no blossom. It waits until the sun shines on it, then unfurls its colors. One bloom, not much, but for me, it is a smile, a gift. A reminder to be resilient, and maybe even brave.
Morning glories have another unique characteristic. They bloom in the morning, wilt by afternoon (hmmm, me too), and each bloom lasts only one day. They display their glory, one day only, in the morning sunlight. Each day, I want to build the ability to bounce back, to move forward, to cultivate a resilient spirit. Resilient-in-training.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Change the World

We don't think about it. As we slide our feet over the edge of the bed, touch the floor and lean our weight on them to stand up, we don't think about changing the world. Maybe not even thinking at that point. I'm not. By the time we pick up the day's clothes and walk toward the bathroom, thoughts begin to surface. The day begins: all that has to be done, should be done, or we want to do, clamoring for our attention. But, is Change the World on our list? Probably not.

Lee Silber, the author of a book that changed the way I function in my little world, Time Management for the Creative Person, writes a newsletter. Last month, he tossed out an invitation to write and submit a short story. I like to write short-short stories at 500 words. He asked the short stories to be 200 words. A challenge. How to convey the idea that if we get ourselves out of bed and do the work that is that day's gift, we will have an impact? How to convey the idea that even the smallest effort, the smallest steps do create an impact, your imprint on the world? I am grateful he included my story in his newsletter this month.

When you feel like you are just a drop in a bucket, remember, even small drops create ripples that can  change the world.

I can't figure out how to link to the email which is his newsletter. So, here is my story.


“Jimmy, get up now, you are late.”

“So what?”

“So, the team is counting on you to make that perfect play. So, in two weeks when the sport scouts are at the finals, you won’t be chosen.”

Jim sat up, yawned and scratched his head. “What?”

“Because you aren’t in position, the other team will break through the line and your team won’t score.”

“Mom, you are making this up.” He swung his feet over the bed and dug through the mess on the floor for his shirt.

Mom set the clean, folded laundry she carried on his dresser. “Your shirt is here. What you do affects everyone around you, one way or another.”

“Isn’t that a bit far-fetched? You are exaggerating. Just because I run a bit late this morning, the world is not going to change. You could never prove what might have happened.”

“No, but be sure irresponsibility has negative effects.”

Jimmy shrugged, “Like ripples in a pond.” He grabbed his shirt and walked to the bathroom.

“Hey Jim.”

“What now?”

“We just had a serious conversation and it is five minutes before seven. It’s going to be a good day.”

Saturday, September 28, 2013

He Knows It All

"He knows it all - the winding path,
The sky o'ercast and gray.
The steepness of the mountanside,
The roughness of the way.

He knows it all - the haunting fear,
The doubtings that distress,
The wond'rings and perplexities,
And all the strain and stress.

He knows it all - each troubled thought,
Each anxious wave of care,
And every burden, every grief,
Or cross that thou dost bear.

He knows it all - thy weight of woe,
Thine often tear-dimmed eye,
The stabbing pain, the slow, dull ache,
And sorrow's broken cry.

He knows it all - you are His child,
Thy wounds He takes by choice.
He gave Himself to bring you home,
So trust Him, and rejoice!"

                                                                               -E. Margaret Clarkson
quoted on, September 3, 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Choose to Trust

Do you have ten minutes and twenty-seven seconds to watch this? Well worth the time.

Scott Hamilton, an olympic and world champion ice skater shares his heart, his health struggles, his trust in the Lord, his laugh, his tears.

"...I choose to look at the brain tumor as the greatest gift...because it made everything else possible..."

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Eagles' Wings

" I bore you up on eagles' wings and brought you to myself."

Exodus 19:4

drawing by our daughter, littlebitzoart, white pencil on black canvas

Friday, September 20, 2013

Random Rambles, Part Two

I planted zinnias from seed last spring in the basement. The seeds were saved from our son's yard, collected in the fall. Finally, they are blooming like crazy in pots and in the garden. Bright colors, scattered around the yard, or cut and stuck in a jar in the kitchen, they make a long-lasting arrangement (I stick the flowers in a jar - calling them an arrangement is a very loose term). I remember reading somewhere that zinnias were a favorite for the pioneer women. They would carry the seeds with them, grow the flowers outside their door, nurturing them for their cheerful colors and memories of home, creating a new home where they were.

We are having a blast reading aloud two books I found at the library. The End of the Beginning, and A Beginning, a Muddle, and an End, by Avi. He plays with words, creatively twisting them while he weaves a story about two unlikely characters, "a small snail and an even smaller ant." I love to hear our son giggle when he gets the plays on words. We laugh together, enjoying the light-hearted story.

The ant, Edward, teaches Avon, the snail, a song to sing while they are on their adventure.

 " "One of the better things about it," Edward pointed out, "is the fact that it can be sung from either end. I sing it from the beginning, and my father sings it from the end."
     "Can it be sung from the middle?"
     "Absolutely," said Edward. "That's how my mother always does it. As you can see, we are a family of individuals."
     "Ah, but at least you're all singing the same song," said Avon."
from The End of the Beginning

And, from the end of A Beginning, a Muddle, and an End,
"Avon found a new piece of paper and was about to start writing again when he sighed and said, "I have to admit my thoughts are still in a muddle."
     "Avon!" cried Edward. "That's exactly where a writer should be. After all, creatures generally have nothing to do with their beginnings. And it's not often they consider their ends. But in between there's all that muddle. The writer's job is to write about the muddle."
     "Are you saying," said Avon, "that since I'm always in a muddle..."
     "It proves you are a writer.""

Orange Glazed Carrots
adapted from Fix It and Forget It Lightly, by Phyllis Pelman Good

32 oz. pkg baby carrots (or thickly sliced)
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c orange juice
1 tbsp butter
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup water

Combine all ingredients except cornstarch and water in slow cooker.
Cook on low 4 - 6 hours, or until carrots are done to your liking. For my slow-cooker, I have to turn it to high for a couple of the hours.
In small bowl, stir together cornstarch and water until smooth. Add to carrots, cook a few minutes until sauce thickens.

Here's to our in-the-muddle days!