Thursday, February 28, 2013


Do you ever feel like you need a fresh start as the sun comes up, casting its yellow glow from the east?
Yeah, me too.
When the hours turn into days turn into weeks turn into months.
 Time. Life.
And you wonder what it all means, what you have to show for it, what you have done with the minutes.
Time can look like an enemy. Demanding, blaming, finger-pointing, accusing.
Time can also be a friend. Awake, alive, asleep, resting, quiet, the moments brush over us like the breath of life.
This moment, now. A fresh start. Wherever we are. This moment. New and fresh. Alive. Here. Not just early in the morning. Any moment of the day. Now.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

His Name

"...and His name shall be called..."
Isaiah 9:6
joining with the quiet Sunday community

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Walking Stick

"Take this stroll through life; take a pencil as a walking stick."

-Jeff Olson, The Slight Edge 

We walk the dog, most days. We walk and talk, the son and I, about his Civil Air Patrol experiences, about the latest book he is reading, about news clips and how it will affect us, or not. Or, we just walk and gaze at the mountains, the space around us, the sky - if there is the sound of a plane or jet or helicopter, he looks until he spots it in the wide expanse of sky. The dog, she loves to get out, especially in the two open fields where we can let her off leash and she bounds around us. Blind, she bounds ahead and then back to make sure she knows where we are, staying on the familiar gravel of the path, feeling her way along, sensing somehow when it is time to turn back toward the road home, time to clip on her leash.

For me, the walk is a good time to clear my head. Release the tensions. To not think about what needs to be done back at home; instead, to absorb the space and the sky and soar with the birds.

Our daughter sent me this quote from The Slight Edge, a book we have both read, about motivation and working toward our goals, little steps at a time. She commented, "You don't have to draw life, you can write it out. Cameras can't catch how you feel when you see something picture worthy."

 The art of keeping a journal starts with the art of capturing our feelings, our responses to the life happening around us. Sometimes, I need to set aside the pen, the camera, the computer and pay attention to what is going on in the people, the sky, the animals, the plants around me. Pay attention to how I feel.

 Pick up that pencil walking stick: walk, talk, breathe, look and see, really see what is around you. Then, there will be words to express the feelings, the scenes, the events of daily life.


Friday, February 22, 2013


Five Minute Friday
This week's Five Minute Friday prompt:

What My Mama Did

For me, her cozy name is Mommy, pronounced like Mummy. An English holdover I guess, part of the New England heritage my parents brought to the west coast with them. I heard that J.K. Rowling had to edit her Harry Potter series for U.S. publication because she used the endearing term Mummy - perfectly sensible in England, but not here in the U.S. I could never pronounce it like I was yawning, Mawmmy. It has to be a short "u" like a hug, Mummy. But I digress.

My one-word for 2013 is, "quiet." Learning a deep inside, calm sense of quiet trust and love and grace. He leads me beside still waters.

Last Sunday, for my verse and photo I used a quote about Psalm 23, about going through the valley of shadows, and remembering a shadow is cast by a light behind it.

Thinking of what my Mummy did for me, across all those years - how do you isolate just one thing?

One vivid memory. We were in our kitchen, that minty green so popular in the late 50's. She was ironing, standing at the board, sprinkling water on the clothes from an old soda bottle topped with a corked metal thingy with holes, running the heavy metal iron over them, pressing out the corners of collars and smoothing out the wrinkles. I was probably bugging her, hounding her about something. She taught me Psalm 23. Had me repeat it over and over until I got it word perfect. Me, sitting, restless, on the kitchen floor. She, standing, her hands busy, offering me words that would stay with me, guide me the rest of my life. Then she sent me outside to play.
She had to put her hair up in pin curls every night. Mine just curled on its own.

And now, fifty some years later, the voice of those peaceful, calm words still ring in my heart. Deeply, their truths revealing and splashing refreshing comfort over my restless days. And I am grateful she took the time to teach me those quiet words.

Monday, February 18, 2013

General Washington

"The General is sorry to be informed that the foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing, a vice heretofore little known in an American Army, is growing into fashion. He hopes the officers will by example, as well as influence, endeavor to check it, and that both they and the men will reflect, that we can have little hope of the blessings of Heaven on our arms if we insult it by our impiety and folly. Added to this, it is a vice so mean and low, without any temptation, that every man of sense and character detests and despises it."

-General George Washington
This order was issued in 1776
I saw this quote in a booklet from our son's Civil Air Patrol.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Shadow is Cast by a Light

"When walking through the 'valley of shadows,' remember, a shadow is cast by a Light."

- Austin O'Malley

Joining Deidra with the quiet Sunday community

and with Sandy

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Robins' Song

They flocked to the tree in the yard behind our house and sang a cheerful chorus to announce the arrival of spring. Our son, goofing around in the back yard, noticed them and called me to come see. Some of them flew off to nearby trees before I could grab the camera. We watched for awhile and listened to their happy song.

"We are here," they sang, "And so is spring!"

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Cookies for Valentines

We made these heart shaped cookies for Valentine's Day (there may not be any left by Thursday).
Our favorite sugar cookie recipe:

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
4 cups flour
Blend together shortening, sugar, eggs and sour cream. Add remaining ingredients. Refrigerate, covered, an hour or two. Roll out on floured surface, cut shapes. Bake 350 degrees, 8 - 10 minutes. Cool.

Have you seen the Gourmet Writing pens - food grade markers? Fun! We bought ours at Hobby Lobby. On the website, it looks like some Sears stores carry them. Amazon has them, also.
We made these cookies a few weeks ago and frosted them with buttercream frosting, but the frosting was too soft for the markers to work well. This time we used a recipe for Royal Icing, a frosting that dries smooth and firm. I looked up recipes on-line and used one that had cream of tartar, egg whites and powdered sugar.

Using small candy hearts as inspiration, we wrote and drew on the cookies.

Wish we could share some cookies with you!

What would you write or draw on your cookies?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

That's Life

This is from a church we pass by on our walks. Makes me smile every time.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

In the Off Season

We stepped out the front door, towed by the dog at the end of her leash. She loves her walks.

My son commented as he stepped off  the porch, nodding at a sparse shrub, "That didn't make it, did it."

I said, "Hey, it is winter. It is supposed to look like that right now." And, I resisted the urge to talk to the plant and assure it it would be okay, just hang in there (I'm a bit odd like that with my plants).

The plant is a Russian Sage, covered with lavender-like blooms summer through fall. They do very well here, blooming for months with little care, and lots of houses have them in their yards. As we walked, I noticed how the bigger, older, established ones looked just the same as my little one, planted last fall. Except bigger, of course.

We won't know for sure if it survived its first winter until spring. I have watered it when the days are above 50 degrees, according to the nursery directions. This dry, cold winter is hard on young plants and they need extra moisture even when they don't look alive.

Walking the neighborhood, noticing the dry, scraggly shrubs in people's yards, it made me think. How often do we throw something out - an idea, a relationship, a skill - because it doesn't look full or beautiful or finished or valuable.

That idea may be in the beginning stages. Barely fleshed out, more of an image than a full blown concept. It may need water and nourishment. It may need a bit of pruning back those bare branches. It may need time. Time to deepen its roots and reach into the ground for moisture and nutrients and strength to hold firm against the blustery winter winds. Time to fill out.

That relationship may not look like much. Barely even a relationship, really. People need time. Time to flourish and bloom, and sometimes time to rest and sit through a season of stillness. Waiting. Growing in invisible ways. Valuable. A relationship takes time. Giving time, waiting time.

That skill. Any skill grows through spurts and plodding. A skill like playing the piano. Hours of practice. The same lines over and over and over. Progress, stumbling over the keys, fumbling with the timing, the technique, working and re-working the hard parts, struggling along. And one day, the notes flow through the fingers, perfect and beautiful. Melodious.

My little Russian Sage will be pretty come summer, enjoyed every time we step off the front porch. I will notice it, even if our son doesn't. Now, in the off season, it doesn't look like much. Barely even looks alive. But come warmer weather, it will begin to sprout tiny green leaves, filling all those bare branches with green, and budding into lavender colored bursts come summer. What appears dead and bare now, will become beautiful, in its season.
A hedge of Russian Sage in the summer

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Lamp, Lifeboat, Ladder

For the beginning of February, I took a few days (almost) unplugged. A bit of time to breathe and continue with quiet.

I will write more about this later, but we have re-evaluated our son's high school work, pulled away from the on-line high school and returned to home teaching: working together, planning around his interests, and slowing down the pace and the pressure. A needed relief for him, a pleasant respite for both of us.

Each week I give him an essay topic, or he chooses one related to a book he has read. Last week, I handed him this calendar page from my Mary Engelbreit daily calendar. I told him, "This looks interesting, like something you could relate to leadership. See what you can do with it." He looked at the cutsie drawing, kind of snorted in his fifteen year old way and raised his eyebrows. "No, seriously. Think about it. There are three topics, perfect essay format. Each one has good applications. Try it."

This is what he wrote.

     “Be a lamp, a lifeboat or a ladder.” What does this mean? What can be taken from this? What lesson can those words teach us? It all depends on how you think of them. I think of them as a leadership lesson. From a leadership stand point, what do these words mean? If you think about it, they are very self explanatory.

     Be a lamp, what does this mean? From a leadership standpoint, it means to show your people the way. Jesus says that he is our light and when the world is pitch black, he will be our light and show us the way. He is our lamp. He is our leader. As a leader you have to show your followers the way. As the followers of Jesus, he is our lamp, so we should be the lamp for our followers. You do this by being a good leader. Jesus is a natural leader and he showed us how to live the way we were meant to live. By example, we show others how to live. You just have to learn how to be a good leader.

     Be a lifeboat. How can someone be a lifeboat? So many people died on the Titanic because they didn’t have enough lifeboats. They thought the Titanic was so unsinkable that they didn’t put enough lifeboats on it. When a leader is a lifeboat, they are saving their followers. They are keeping them afloat and helping them out. A leader is someone that can fill many roles. One of them is the role of a lifesaver. When you are having trouble doing something, who do you go to? Your leader! A good leader can show you things you didn’t know, and help you do things that you are having trouble with. If there had been enough good leaders there when they were making the Titanic, things would have turned out differently.

     What can you do to be a better leader? Be a ladder! When you first started, were you already at the top? No. You started at the bottom and worked your way up the ladder. Did you do it by yourself? Or did you have someone helping you? You probably had someone helping you. That person was your ladder, helping you up by giving you steps to take. When you started you were at the bottom looking up at this huge cliff that was insurmountable. Then you got a leader, and suddenly there was a ladder on that insurmountable cliff, and now it was possible. You worked your way to the top with the help of someone else and now it’s your turn to help someone else up the cliff, be their ladder.

     Be a lamp, a lifeboat or a ladder. Now this should make more sense, because you should understand it better. But you should draw your own conclusion of what these words mean. What do you think they mean? What do you think you can learn from them? What kind of lesson are they giving you?  Only you can decide what they mean, because they can mean many different things and all of them depend on how you personally perceive them.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Whiter Than Snow

"Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." 
Psalm 51:7

"Lord Jesus, before You I patiently wait;
Come now and within me a new heart create.
To those who have sought You,
You never said, 'No,'
Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow."
From the hymn, Whiter Than Snow, verse four
Text: James Nicholson
Music: William G. Fischer

joining with Deidra and the quiet Sunday community, and with Sandy at Still Saturday