Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What I Learned in July

This post is linked with Emily Freeman, from her blog world, Chatting At the Sky. A fun place to meet with others who share their lessons, humor, mistakes, and open the doors of their lives.

What I learned in July

I appreciate my age. I love being the age I am, which is a year older this month. I am honestly grateful not to be young anymore. I spent ten days with our youngest son (fourteen), taking care of two of our grandchildren, ages seven and a year and a half. Came home exhausted. But we had a blast together, just had fun, played games, goofed around without any of the usual to-do lists. Love that about being a grammie.

Goldfish s'more crackers are yummy. GrandaughterK and I stacked them, grahams on top and bottom, chocolate and marshmallow "fish" in the middle. MMMmmm!

On being a princess. In general, my blog is not for scriptural Bible studies. Others do that vastly better than me. This month, though, the Lord led me through a study on being a princess, a daughter of the King. Don't roll your eyes - I saw that. I am a blue jeans, flannel shirt, boots gal. No tiaras and lacey phoofey outfits. Please! I started the section in Can We Talk? by Priscilla Shirer, the chapter called, "My Pink Princess Slippers" with a pink pen. As a joke. No way I was going to play princess and dress-up and strut in diamonds, demanding whatever whim I wanted. Nope, not me. 
     However. This month I am also reading Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown, How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci by Michael Gelb, and One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. These three, along with Priscilla's Bible study wove together a beautiful tapestry and fresh understanding of strength and power and position as a daughter of the King. 
    I have unique outfits to wear:

  • put on grace
  • put on power
  • put on courage
  • put on a quiet spirit
  • put on enough
  • put on the Spirit
  • put on Light
  • put on Love
  • put on strength
     I made up a mind-map, centered with a drawing of a castle, the Lord, my stronghold of strength. (Psalm 18:3) 
     From the stronghold, each "put on" branches out, listed with sub qualities and Bible verses.

     There is still much to learn, much to grow into in my understanding. Having the visual mind-map made a big difference, giving me a scene, so to speak, in my mind, as I walk through my days. My concept of a spoiled bratty princess is gone. It helped, this month, watching Princess Kate walk out the door of that hospital, twenty-four hours after delivering Prince George, calm, confident, graceful, glowing, standing sure and beautiful beside her husband. I sat in awe in the airport terminal, struck by her demonstration of a modern day princess. Wow.
     At the beginning of the month, we visited a castle. Interesting, isn't it, how the Lord takes bits and pieces of daily life and weaves it all together. 

And what will I be learning in August? A zillion things to do with cream cheese. Our son arrived home from working as staff for two months at a summer camp with some of the left over food. A three pound box of cream cheese, 25 packages of strawberry cream cheese, and 38 packages of cream cheese like you would get at a restaurant to go with your bagel. Any suggestions?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Grace Glasses

"Be Thou my Vision,
O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me,
Save that Thou art -
Thou my best thought,
By day or by night,
Waking or sleeping,
Thy presence my light."

Ancient Irish hymn, translated by Mary E.Byrne
Be Thou My Vision, sung by Fernando Ortega (my favorite version)

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Last week the kids spent hours playing with a set of nesting balls. Five sizes, ten halves with a rattly ball in the middle. The little guy watched, patiently, amused, as the elementary and middle school age kids were entertained by his baby toy.

They lined them up on the table, hiding the rattle ball under one half. "Guess which one the ball is under." Random guesses, sometimes getting it on the first try, sometimes on the very last option. The correct guesser hides it next. Close your eyes while the ball is hidden, then open them and make a guess.

Life can be like that.

Close your eyes, then make your best guess.

Should I take this job?
Should we move to this house?
Should we buy/rent/sell/stay?
What will happen if we go/don't go?
How can I know I am doing the right thing?
When will be a good time to take that step?
I did not take photos of their game, but we played Life also, with similar lessons in choice

As the kids played, they added levels of difficulty, hiding multiple alphabet blocks under some. The one with the most wins. Then, they added another little ball. The balls were subtracted from the number of blocks.

Fear holds you back. What if? What if I don't?

Choices get more complex as you get older.
What do you want for lunch, macaroni and cheese or peanut butter and jam, become career choices or how will we survive?

The best we can do is ask, pray, make the wisest choice we understand. Move forward. We'll never know what could have been. We do know where we are today.

Close your eyes. Make your choice, as best as you know. Life.

Friday, July 19, 2013


     drifts down
Orange sun
     hangs heavy
Pauses a moment
     one last glow
     one last ray
Sky shifts gray
     dims quiet
     breathes still

My day
Sunlight gone
Pause a moment
     a thought
     a prayer
Quiet still
     Light within

The sun sets behind Iowa silos, barns, cornfields, farmyards.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Changing, Growing

My garden has undergone a big transformation the last two weeks. I pulled out the peas, kale and nasturtiums, their riddled lacework leaves from the beetle invasion were not pretty. The lettuce is mostly gone, going to seed. Guess we didn't eat it fast enough or I planted too much or it is too hot for it now.

Brite Lites chard - yellow, red and lime green stalks

Beet greens in the garden

Beets for dinner

Cherry tomatoes in a pot with marigolds

             The nursery man told us that red has been scientifically proven to encourage plant growth by 15%. I wanted to buy another turquoise tomato cage, but went with his recommendation and bought the red one instead. So far, I am not overly impressed. Have you ever heard of that?
Beefsteak tomatoes

Bush Beans
Strawberry pot overrun with flowers. I didn't plant the petunias - they are volunteers - sweet!

Newly planted: zucchini, summer squash, corn, mini peppers, mini pumpkins and zinnias. The minis are seeds from grocery store plants last year, and with all the genetic and hybrid modifications they may not produce. But it is worth a try. It is also a little late in the year to be planting seeds, but they should have enough time to grow before frost.

 For me, a big part of gardening is the adventure of trying. It is one area in my life I can push boundary envelopes without troublesome consequences. So I test my boundaries and see just how far they can go.
Mexican Primrose 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Your Top Ten?

"The more that you read,
the more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
the more places you'll go."
-Dr. Seuss

My Ideal Bookshelf, edited by Thessaly La Force with art by Jane Mount holds over a hundred interviews with creative people from a variety of disciplines around the world. Each of the contributors interviewed  listed the books they would have on one small bookshelf.

The suggested categories:

  • My Favorite Book
  • the Book that Changed My Life
  • the Book I Read Again and Again
  • the Book I Love the Most
  • the Book that Made Me Who I Am
  • the Best Book I Ever Read
  • the Book that Makes Me Cry Every Time
A sample page, sort of randomly chosen
The artist designed and drew the spines of each book, creating a variety of displays, books stacked different directions, sometimes with decorative props or bookends, each shelf a colorful, interesting display in itself. 
Some of the lists are predictable: the chefs are cookbook fans, the designers hold biographies of famous designers, the professors stack up the classics in their genre. Favorite children's books are lined up with difficult philosophical works. Fiction and non-fiction, practical and fantastical, science fiction, textbooks, political and spiritual - the variety was amazing. Many of the books were not familiar to me.

I did not make a list of to-reads. Mostly, I was fascinated with their lists, looking for a glimpse into the character, the loves, the interests, the education of each person. Each facing page includes an interview. I didn't have the chance to read them all. Some couldn't define why a certain book was on their list, why they loved that book so much. Some just liked the design of the cover. Others had life-changing, life-determining events inspired by the books. 

The last page is for the reader to fill in. With pencil, because your list today may be different from next month or next year.

Okay. This is the hard part. A challenge.

Make your own list. Your ten books to put on your one small shelf.

"Your favorite favorites. A snapshot of you in a moment of time."

Here is my attempt. If you know me at all, limiting the list to just ten is tough.
  • the Bible
  • My Daily Meditation, John Henry Jowett
  • Lord, Teach Me to Pray, Kay Arthur
  • L'Abri, Edith Schaeffer
  • Winter Solstice, Rosamunde Pilcher
  • The View from Saturday, E.L. Konigsburg
  • Walking on Water, Madeleine L'Engle
  • One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp
  • Square Foot Gardening, Mel Bartholomew
  • Passionate Gardening, Lauren Springer and Rob Proctor
Okay. I did it, edited it to ten. Phew. Would be easier if I could do it by categories. Ten of each category. And this list is not written in concrete, but in pencil. These books stand the test of time, have been read many times, have made a difference in my life. Yes, there are more, but for today, this is my top ten.

What does your list look like?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Two Cool Summer Fun Ideas

Need some fresh ideas for summer fun? Put together some creative people and ideas are bound to flow. One asks, instead of a water fight, how about a paint fight? The idea grows. I listen, wondering just how far these ideas will take flight.

A trip to the store for washable paints, squirt guns, face paint (for drama), cheap shorts and flip-flops. Dad's old t-shirts, destined for the rag bag will work as wearable paint targets.

They dilute the paint with water in soda bottles rescued from the recycling bin - next time, they will use more paint. Without funnels the squirt guns are tricky to fill, but they figure it out. (Need to put funnels on the list for such occasions). Cardboard pieces are set up as shelters, in theory anyway.

Ready. Set. Go!

Eventually, they escalate to bigger guns, the type that attach a small soda bottle to the high powered squirt gun. They aren't wet enough. Yet.

An afternoon made for memories.

The battle aftermath.

Another idea: the game, Qwirkle

Have you played this game? Good for a variety of ages and abilities - the brilliant and the not so brilliant. I have not managed to win - yet. What category does that put me in? Oh well, the game is fun without a victory.  Lots of color and a different look to each game as the blocks are combined in sets of color or shapes. A great game to build creative thinking skills. And have fun.
Amazon has Qwirkle, sometimes Target (not affiliate link, just FYI).

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

We Had a Blast Last Week

One daughter flew in from another state. Two daughters came to stay for days. When you live in an all guy household, some girl time is delightful. Don't get me wrong - I appreciate and enjoy all the guys, but the conversation topics are, well, different. I won't tell you how many times J rolled his eyes at our goofy conversations (because I lost count, or actually, didn't bother to count).

What do we do? Besides enjoy the rare minutes together...

We wander around the Scout Camp where one son works for the summer, appreciate the mountain air and scenery, inhale the resin smells of the pine trees, drink in the quiet.

We explore a hand-built castle, complete with a smoke breathing dragon when the huge fireplace is lit. They climb higher than I do, but are only half way up when they decide it is high enough for them.

We follow the path along the river, lush with cottonwoods and undergrowth, the desert moonscape like another planet just a few feet away. The desert becomes a close reality when one gal says, "Doesn't that stick over there look like a snake?" Another gal says, "Oh wait, it is a snake!" The snake poses for us, attempts to look inanimate, his head held high mid-air. We chase it away (I stand the farthest away) and find out later the Red Racer is known to have an aggressive attitude. Glad this guy decides we aren't worth the trouble.

We celebrate a birthday on the Fourth, with fireworks bursting over the roof of the house across the street, the city display a few blocks from our house. We have a burn ban after all the recent wildfires, and are grateful they can still do the fireworks - it is a birthday tradition for our July Fourth birthday girl.

We take hundreds of photos. No exaggeration. Of each other, of flowers, of trees, of clouds, of antics, of water, of the guys when they will cooperate, of whatever. Fun to watch what catches each other's eye, what captivates attention, what photo ops we create or notice. Lots of creativity at work, each an artist in her own way.

We play games, put puzzles together, attempt to cook healthy food (balanced with yummy desserts), watch old movies and a new one, relax and talk. Did I mention we eat?

Time with these adults, these children that once filled our house, makes me feel rich and full. Content. Grateful for who they are. Our unique history, our story as a family, written in the good times and the bad, built on memories and time, like this week, together.

thanks to G and H for great photos!