Mighty Blues

 How could something so small,
 something that lasts only one day,
 be so extravagantly glorious?
* Pondering verses here.

In light of those verses, you might want to 
sing a little bit. Or even alot.  


Maple Keys and Small Beginnings

              I got this photo of red maple keys just as the evening sun lit them on its way to bed. 

It's another perfect reminder of my guiding verse for 2015. 
This verse resonated with me in January, and I knew it was the one for the twelve 
months to follow. Throughout the year, the Spirit has been the ever gracious teacher, reminding me, 
"Do not despise the day of small beginnings..." 

2015 is losing its breath and nearing the finish line, but this verse is still at work in me.


Verse and Vacation

What do you think of this verse from my morning reading? 
It jumped out and grabbed my shirt collar. 

"Now unto the King 
the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. 

Join me--let this bang around in your head today. 
It might make its way twelve inches south and have real 
impact when it lodges in our hearts. 
I'm asking for that.

Eternal ... immortal ... invisible
Opportunity for extra pondering here.


Side Notes:
* This photo from a recent family trip to Williamsburg, VA, was taken from the steps of the oldest building on the campus of William & Mary College, the Wren Building, 1695. (1695!!!) 

** Family vacations still belong to our original five: my husband, myself, and our three mostly-grown, unmarried sons. To our yearly surprise, they look forward to this tradition. Lots of quality free food may be a contributing factor. Vacationing with these adult-ish versions of the children we raised, sharing memories and making new ones, is an unexpected and cherished blessing. 

When we go on vacation, dreams are spun. The unusual conversational freedom is an absolute highlight for me, and this trip was no exception. Miles flew by as we hashed out plans for an entrepreneurial adventure inspired by an expressway billboard. The structure of a niche business was built over a plate of chili cheese fries. In addition to frisbees on the beach, plots were tossed to attend William & Mary, get coordinating degrees, and relocate to lovely Virginia. 

*** I keep a brief record of what happens on each day of vacation, including the funny quotes, favorite meals, and activities. Over breakfast or in the car on the way to the next stop, I scribble short notes in a cheap notebook, asking the group for contributions. Sometime soon, I'll show you how to use what you bring home to make a super-shortcut memory book.


Use Your Workbook

Do you mark in your Bible? 
Many years ago, someone taught me that our Bibles are not intended to be 
decorative pieces, merely part of a holier-than-thou tablescape. He said our 
Bibles should be WORKBOOKS. Well, you know every teacher can appreciate 
a good workbook, so that's how I've used mine over the years of my walk with Christ.
So mine is a well-marked workbook, showing where I've struggled and where I've 
found joy. It's easy to locate the verses that have called me back again and again.
Sky verses are special to me, so I mark them in my Bible with 
a very lightly-drawn, completely reverent, puffy cloud. 
Whenever I come across one of these in the 
margin, I know I've met an old friend.

Apparently, King David was also moved by a beautiful stretched canvas of sky - 
Psalm 8:3-4, Psalm 19:1, Psalm 36:5, Psalm 57:11, Psalm 108:4

Side Note:
When I'm writing, it's usually completely quiet in the house. I need the quiet, or my thoughts skitter and scatter like the shyest birds-never to be captured. But lately, I've needed some background music to help me along. This is perfect accompaniment for working, but this song has stayed on my mind, and on my lips, these past few weeks, to remind me of my truest purpose. 


Friends Along the Way

I gawk as I drive along--do you?
Neighbors, I'm looking at your gardens, admiring, wondering, 
and considering sneaking a start from one plant or another. 
One of my Garden Friends Along the Way, 
I know she would be my friend if we ever met, 
has a plastic chair in her carefully kept vegetable garden. 
She moves it around to face the corn, then angles it toward the green beans.
The cheap green chair has been in the middle of the watermelon vines 
and at the end of a long row of yellow and orange marigolds. 
I love that this gardener doesn't only work in the garden, but sits in it, too.
I imagine her savoring the way her vegetables grow--
all that pushing and shoving, some leaping skyward while
others grasp for a bigger patch of earth. 

She was out there once, when I was driving home, along my everyday route. 
You know I swerved when I saw her sitting in her chair. 
But I didn't stop. 
I didn't pull into her driveway and compliment 
her thoughtful and clever use of the garden chair. I probably should have.

But I honked and waved like crazy. 

*I had this old chair in my own garden some years ago, just for some garden structure
It lasted one growing season and fell to bits in a wind storm.


Enter Listening

We visited an old church in an old town recently. Some helpful soul felt led to instruct the 
congregation in various ways via the magic of the computer printer. 
I think we can all conjure a pretty vivid image of the person who plastered the church 
building with instructional missives held fast by folded masking tape bundles.

But wait - look at this one:
This one caught me by the arm. 
This instruction, LISTEN, rung a bell in my spirit. 

Do you know what I mean when I say that? 
Have you ever had one of those YES! moments? When something someone says, 
or something you read, grabs you by the lapel and gives you a shake? 
And you know, you know for sure, a message has been sent especially for you? 
Or maybe that's just me. 

I don't know about you, friends, but LISTENING is not at the top of my list when 
I enter the church sanctuary. You can be pretty sure that I've made a reasonable effort
that my clothes match. It's a reliable fact that I'll have coffee and a bulletin in hand. 
And you can bet I'm thinking of who might already be waiting for me 
inside, what we'll say, and how we'll laugh.

Yes, it's for sure - I do not enter the sanctuary LISTENING. 
But I think there might be more for all of us than coffee, announcements, 
and churchy chuckles when we come together. There's probably more to be 
heard than our own vain voices, if we just took a moment to enter listening. 

I'm going to make this a priority for the next few Sundays and see what happens.
Whoever printed that page will have one more obedient parishioner than she 
(or he) hoped for. 

Or maybe more than one - would you like to join me? We could Enter Listening in our respective church sanctuaries wherever we attend, all over the globe. 
Who knows what might happen...


One-Way Conversations

Someone was trying to send a message. 
The pink scripture stamped on this postcard looks like an after-printing addition. 
Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. -- Romans XII 21 

A word of friendly encouragement for Mr. George C. Hust. 

The sender started to address the card, but stopped for some reason. 
Was she embarrassed to send such a bold, biblical statement, fearing the opinions 
of all who would handle the card as it made its way to Mr. Hust?
Did she hesitate, too faint-hearted to admonish a fellow believer, and shove the card away?
Did the nib of her feathered pen snap, with no replacements in the house? 

There's a story here...


I found this card at a flea market for 50¢, tossed 
among other lovely bits of junk. I'm always sidelined in 
antique stores reading vintage postcards, eavesdropping on 
long-ago, one-way conversations. 
"Florida is lovely, we've eaten fish everyday!"
"Tell Mother I'm doing just fine, a city girl now."
Recently I found this on the back of a photo postcard - 
"What I have against Hitler is the way he deals with young people." That single statement and nothing else.
It's fascinating! If you've missed it before, check out 
the typical box of old postcards in any antique junk store.


What Rhymes With Nine?

It's my forty-ninth birthday today, and
I'm pondering my slogan for the coming year.

You have birthday slogans, right? A new one every year?

A short motto, preferably rhyming, to launch the 
the next year of life. I'm leaving behind last year's:
Life will be great while I'm forty-eight!

A lot of great things rhyme with "nine" ...  and I'm happy 
to take suggestions.
Side Note:
Heavenly Blue morning glory is twining up the greenhouse downspout.
When the early morning sun lights those blooms - OH! 
There's no choice other than an hour or so of pajama photography


More Than a Momento

 I have a copy of A. W. Tozer's The Pursuit of God. This small, worn book was published in the late 1940s and belonged to one of the great mentors of my life. She passed it on to me years ago, and I have to admit that I kept it as a memento,  and cherished it mostly because she wrote her name inside the front cover. 

 When I was a younger me, the emotion my elders expressed over the handwriting of their elders seemed a little excessive to me. I remember my mom saying, "Look at this - that's Dad's handwriting!" I just smiled and nodded, never sensing anything unusual. Now, here I am at the end of my forties, and I get it. I'm not sure if I inherited it or if I'm just finally old enough to understand it, but seeing my friend's name, written in bold ownership on that cover, causes emotion to wash over, or maybe through, me. 

Running my finger over the faded blue lettering is irresistible; a way to touch the tiniest bit of the person she was when she made that signature. Someone who defied the conventions of her own times to live a peculiar life, one that included reading difficult books such as this one. She let her light shine brightly, and sometimes I had to sort of squint in her company.

Ten years ago, if you had asked me who among my older friends would finish well, I would've said her name without hesitation and added a fist pump or two. She would've laughed and refused to give me a high-five.

But age can be cruel, dear friends, even to the best and brightest among us, and we all know it. Even the most fervent followers in our company may, in their last years, mourn aloud the darkness of their own heart.

I know her Savior is near, that she is never alone, and that He is faithful. I tell myself these things and focus my thoughts on these TRUTHS when her present condition becomes overwhelming. 

Her younger self, the one that signed Tozer's thin volume when it was brand new, would tell me to read the book and stop being so silly and sentimental. She would remind me of this and tell me to trust thisSo that's what I've been doing. 

She would encourage you to do the same. 
Read some of the hard stuff - rock solid theology from the last century's midpoint. Get a copy of anything by A. W. Tozer in your hands, hunker down and, in the words of a wise friend of mine - CHEW.

The one I'm reading is free at this website
We could read it together...?


Summer Dinner - Upscale BLTs

I could eat BLT sandwiches every night. 
Ask my family - EVERY night.
I tried it, but quickly ran out of tomatoes. 
There's plenty of green and very little red out there. 
Is this what summer in Canada is like?

This is my first time growing basil. 
Aside from pesto, I wasn't exactly sure what to do with it, and there's so much of it!
A dear pal noticed my abundant basil bush and promised to share 
her  superspecial  basil mayo recipe. 
The one from her Tried and True, Lifelong Cookbook.
The one especially for BLTs.
This is my modified version - less basil, more hot sauce, extra mayo. 
Put these in the blender, and you'll wind up with a glorious, basil-green mayo. 

1 c fresh basil, loosely packed
1 c mayo
2 tsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 to 1 tsp hot sauce

Go all out and make specialty bacons for your sandwiches. 
I arrange my pound of bacon on a heavy cooking sheet and let it 
bake in the oven instead of frying it, which eliminates the stove-top mess. 
Before baking, sprinkle with ground pepper to make peppered bacon. 
Sprinkle brown sugar across your pan of uncooked bacon and you'll end up with 
sugared bacon that will make your family happyhappyhappy. 

Prepare to be bacon hero of the day. You might be carried around the backyard 
on the shoulders of delirious, bacon-eating admirers - who knows? 
I can almost hear the cheering crowd...
* Caution - add too much brown sugar and you'll have a scorched mess. 

And, do I have to say it?  Sourdough, people!

The meal theme for the last family gathering here was ... 
"BLT Blowout."
It was easy to knock out almost all the preparations ahead of time;
only the bacon required last minute attention.
Great articles with all the details of throwing a BLT party here.


Worth It

Look - there they go! 
My family. 
I love to lag behind and watch them walk ahead of me.

When my boys were little, love for them overwhelmed me sometimes.
Can you identify?

As they've turned into adults, my mostly-grown men have put us through 
some wear and tear. It's the way of transformation - 
bystanders often sustain injuries. 
Can you identify?

But family vacations have magical, healing properties.
The air of  other places  threads between and around each person, 
and silken bonds of shared memories twine among us.
Vacation jokes, navigation mishaps, food indulgences, music choices - 
things we'll talk over, and laugh about, for years to come.

We would certainly have more dollars in the bank if we bypassed these trips.
Every year, we consider this fact.

Right before we begin to make plans to go again. 

* * *

Check out these vacation websites - you can take a vacation 
and keep some dollars in your pocket, too. 
Here and here


Treasure Hunt - Marriage

I found this tiny bride and groom at a yardsale last weekend.
With only one dollar bill and some change in my pocket, I was happy to find  
a few treasures to take home. The homeowner tucked this clingy pair in a tiny 
cigar box, and they made the ride home without incident.
Right away, I took them to the kitchen sink for a gentle washing.
The worst of the dust and grime came off with a damp cloth, but the hem 
of the bride's gown would not come completely clean

There wasn't anything to be done about their hair - it's just worn away.

And they both have some lumps in unflattering places.
In fact, the more closely you examine this couple, the more flaws become evident -
those lips ... the hands ... some pretty smug eyebrow action ...
Give too much attention to these detracting details, and
you'll miss the really good stuff :

Don't you just want to stare, and drink in the quiet intimacy of their proximity?
She tucks her hand into the small triangle of his arm, 

and he crooks his arm to hold it securely to his side. 
They lean toward each other instead of away,
 allowing selective magnetism to draw them closer. 
In light of this, her nose blob seems much smaller, doesn't it?

 Clearly they've been a couple for a long, long time.
All the evidence points to the fact that they've been used, maybe many times.
According to the layers of dirt (mold?), they spent some years in the basement.
There's no doubt that they're mostly unappreciated, 
 unpopular, even among those they've served in the past.
Available for pocket change, right next to random Tupperware lids.
 But they are still together. 
Together at the wedding celebrations.
Together during the dark basement years. 
Together on the discard table.
Don't muddy hems and awkward trousers seem completely 
beside the point now?

Look at their faces again - 
 those are game-faces if I've ever seen any. 
They take their marriage seriously and seem to know that their relationship
 is worth fighting for; worth the courage it takes to go the distance.
Perhaps the smug eyebrow this groom wears is not one of arrogance, 
but more along the lines of,  "Bring it on!"
When confronted with such a heroic expression
concerns about hair-or the lack of it-disappear.

The conclusion of my  kitchen sink thoughts, for what it's worth:
In the micro-examination of negative, often trivial details, the most 
valuable features of a mature marriage are often overlooked.
 Disappointments take center stage while treasures 
 go unnoticed and unappreciated.


Tools for further thought HERE.