4.29.2016

Glorious Iris



 Look at this glory!
These purple iris even smell delicious—like grape-flavored candy. 
To get a full measure of iris glory, the entire process must take place.

The tight bud of preparation, when all that purple glory is 
hidden, brewing away under wraps.
And the un-beauty of the finished bloom—nobody enjoys that.
It's the bit of the process we pinch off to make room for something new.
Do you see bits of yourself, as I do, in the life cycle of an iris bloom?
Here's the good news:

And I am certain that God, 
who began the good work within you, 
will continue his work until it is 
finally finished 
on the day when Christ Jesus returns.


4.18.2016

Persistence


It's almost time for these to start blooming. 
I'm surprised to see them at all 
since I thought I killed them last season.  
Every year, I think I've killed all the oriental poppies. 

That's because after they've finished their beautiful show and scattered 
their seeds, they get ugly. Too ugly to leave in the flower bed.
So ugly that I'd rather see bare dirt than their brown, raggedy foliage.
Then I chop them right out of the garden. 
Gone, baby, gone.

But every spring, their silver bristled foliage is among the first to rise 
from the winter-stripped ground. 
What more could any gardener want? 
Beautiful spring foliage with attention-getting buds perched on hairy, twisted stems.
Gawk-worthy blooms—papery-orange petals paired with twinkling purple stamens. 
Extravagantly intricate seed pods that nod and sway, spreading treasure for next season.
AND they come back, even if I rip them out in the fall!
More on growing poppies here and here.

I changed the first photo at the Funny Pho.to website with the "impressionism" tool in the "sketches and paintings" category.
They offer free effects, and it's easy to download your altered photo. 

*****
And I didn't know THIS about poppies, but you probably did.

*****
"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the 
word of our God stands forever."



4.08.2016

Hot Juices

Do you enjoy finding once-beautiful things gone shabby and ragged?
In those moments of discovery, 
(at a thrift shop, in a yard sale box, even in a pile of free-to-a-good-home stuff)
 the excitement of what "could be" nudges my elbow, and I'm a goner.

(some of my favorite materials)

And contrary to what you may think - 
- from the Desiring God website
If you need more convincing, here's Chuck Colson's Breakpoint article.
He says that in every area of life, creativity plays a major role.
"The reason is simple: part of our nature as image bearers of God 
the Creator is to be sub-creators."

If I popped over to your house, what creative project would I find you working on? 


Dream studio - here

3.24.2016

Looking Through the Peephole

I torture myself—do you? 
Every Easter season, I read deep things. The more profound the better. 
Thank you, Oswald, Clive, Ravi and Aiden Wilson for providing 
the study tools to help me along the way. 
Now it's almost Good Friday, and I sit with my Bible and some profound book ... 
and squint. 

I ask the Holy Spirit to multiply my understanding and 
plow wisdom deep into the soil of my heart. 
I add forehead kneading to the squinting and throw in some deep breathing. 
Sometimes I just get it over with and kneel.

I long to run into the throne room of His magnificence and openly gawk 
at the mysteries of grace displayed there.
But so often, it seems like I'm standing on a chair, which is balanced on a desk, 
straining to get one eye to the peephole of the firmly closed door. 

I invite you to join me and chase the deep things of God this weekend as the Church, 
worldwide, mourns and celebrates the death and resurrection of our Savior. 
Because sometimes—
He lifts us to the peephole and we see something world-rocking.
Something life-changing. 

 He did it for Moses





3.21.2016

Effective in Prayer


I'm praying for a dear friend today.

It can be daunting, do you find that? Not that my friend is a burden—never that—but I want my prayers to be as effective as possible in a situation that seems desperate. That's when I turn to praying scriptures. 

My favorite is Psalm 23. Yes, the one commonly used at funerals is really for the living. Not only is it simple to use this chapter as a prayer template, but I believe it's powerful as well. If you're not used to praying the scriptures, here's an example, using Psalm 23.

Lord, you're Lori's* shepherd, she shall not be in want. 
Make her lie down in green pastures.
Lead her beside still waters.
Restore her soul.
Lead Lori in paths of righteousness for Your own name's sake. 

She's walking through the valley of the shadow of death, 
but let her fear no evil, for You are with her. 
May Your rod and Your staff comfort her.

You've prepared a table for Lori in the presence of her enemies. 
Anoint her head with oil, Father, and let her cup run over!
Surely goodness and mercy will follow her all the days of her life, 
and Lori will dwell Your house forever.

More scriptures to pray for others, or for yourself, here, here, and hereAnd check out this excellent article about praying the scriptures. 

It's magnolia time in Kentucky. 
And this best nest is ready for its occupants to return.


*not her name




3.11.2016

It's Happening Again


Spring plants stretch from damp dirt and toss their heads in the breeze.

 Weak rays of sunshine penetrate nearly-transparent peony leaves. *

Red-winged blackbirds are first to announce—SPRING IS HERE! 


Side Note -
My neighbor, an elderly spinster lady, passed away last year. In the late fall, her brother invited me to take her peonies plants.
"She set such store by those, but we don't care about 'em." 
I just nodded, but, oh, I felt the horror my neighbor would have experienced at the lowly description of her prized "pie-knees". So, shovel and containers in hand, my Wonderful Husband and I began a search-and-rescue mission. It's not easy to find dried-up peony branches under a carpet of fall leaves and pine needles. We brought three clumps back to our yard, and I broke those into even more parts. I thought it might be too late to set these in the ground and have any chance of seeing them in the spring, but in her honor, I tagged each clump of tubers with her name.
And they're coming up! I know she'd be pleased.






3.04.2016

Ladder to Nowhere

As I drive along, I notice unusual things in yards. 
The men in my life do not appreciate thisthey say I'm swerving, but of course, I'm not
If you happen to be gawking along with me, you know there's lots to see.

For example, not far from here, an entire (plastic) holy family huddles on the front porch of a small white cottage. I'm sure someone intended to put them back in the shed until next year, but they just haven't gotten around to it

In another yard, there's a life-size bear figure, standing tall and menacing. The owners may think it's hidden behind that pampas grass, but people with excellent observation skills will notice these things. They also have a fake white pony, frozen mid-trot, not far from the bear—is there a story in the mind of the yard decorator?

Perhaps my favorite oddity is in the yard of a pink Cape Cod home, set high on a hill. A yeti statue strides through the side yard, perhaps on its way to the next meeting of the RUFO Society


And what about this ladder? 
It's propped against a tree with no apparent purpose at all.
I may have an overactive imagination, as some say, but doesn't this spark your
sense of wonder? A room full of first graders would be bursting with ideas about 
the mystery of this ladder to nowhere.

*******
Here's mine—a Story Snapshot called (what else?) 
"The Ladder to Nowhere"

     Benji walked around the ladder to better see it from all sides. His fingers, sticky with the evidence of three s'mores, brushed once-sharp wooden edges and skimmed embedded, rusty nails. It was almost too dark to really inspect the mysterious ladder now that the sun was going down. He thought about calling J.D., but then everyone would follow, and he might even get in trouble for wandering too far from camp. "Don't leave the circle of firelight," the scout leaders kept repeating. But they were only moms anyway and not real scoutmasters like he used to have in Indiana. 
     Bracing his hands on the side rails, he put his weight the bottom rung with one sneaker. Was it strong enough to hold his weight? He took three more rungs without taking a breath—still safe! From this perch, Benji peered up, up, up through the gloom, but the tree's neighbors huddled too close, blocking any final fingers of sunlight. If he was going to get to the top, he'd have to be fast ...


2.24.2016

Frowzy


This is the time of year when the Annabelle blooms 
I dried and displayed in the fall start to get all ...
frowzy
Covered with a thin sheen of dust and quite faded, 
there's just no way to fix these problems. 
Soon they'll be decorating the garbage can. 

New blooms are just around the corner, though ...
More on Annabelles here, here and here

*****
Is it strange that those hydrangea heads inspired a 
story snapshot? 

Frowzy
     Doris flipped the visor mirror of her 1995 Toyota Camry back into place. She gripped the steering wheel and pressed her forehead into her knuckles. Behind the front door of her home, shrill terrier yips beat a methodical cadence loud enough to reach inside her driveway-parked car. She had to face it: this wasn't going to get any better.
    The unfamiliar feeling of cool air against her neck surprised her againjust as  it had when she left the hair salon this afternoon. Stepping out of her car, she shook her head, scattering waves of chemical fragrance, then shut the car door and locked it. Her Saturday trip to the Anita Cut Salon on 2nd Street for a "new leaf" transformation turned out to be a lesson on the danger of spontaneity. She'd felt the warning twitch in her right eyelid but gave it no heed as Jack-Qua-Lyn rushed her toward a chartreuse plastic chair. Five hours later and fifty dollars poorer, a wiser Doris climbed the steps to her front door.
     Twinkie's nose brushed her foot when she stepped inside; her husband's dog was always glad to see her. Doris pocketed her car keys and bent to greet the suddenly silent pet. Confusion twisted Twinkie's wiry brow, and he backed away instead of jumping into her arms for kisses. With loud whimpers, he turned tail and fled to his favorite hiding place under the dining room table. 
      Doris stood under the bewildered gaze of her husband. "Well? What do you think of my hair?" 
     His eyebrows floated toward his hairline. "Ummmm ... " He blinked hard once, no, twicetherethree times. "Well ... do you like it?" He swallowed and blinked again. "I mean, is that what you ... wanted?" Twinkie slunk forward to cautiously re-investigate her shoe and identify this frowzy impostor. 
     "Yes," she squeaked in a voice that even she didn't recognize. Giving her now-damp foot a sharp flick, she choked, "It's exactly what I wanted."

2.18.2016

Perched


Arms draped with plastic-bagged groceries, I was almost to the front door when I saw it: 
Spring green moss growing right next to a pile of snow.
Are you kidding me? 
I dropped the bags and took phone photos.
I'm glad the neighbors weren't out to see me on the down-low, 
hovering over tiny patches of green. 
That's February in Kentucky! 
We're perched right on the edge of spring, with one foot buried in a snow bank 
and the other stretched toward a soft patch of new grass. 

It must be time to start some seeds ...



2.08.2016

Can We Talk?


Come now, 
and let us reason together, saith the Lord
though your sins be as scarlet

they shall be as white as snow..." Isaiah 1:18
more here 


And a story snapshot:
     Janine dusted the snow from the iron patio chair and took a seat on the very edge to peer upward into her son's face. Something was wrong. She knew it, just as she knew how the house keys had been misplaced. The weekday rush caught her out this morning. Her keys perched inside, on the hook by the back door, and she was locked outside with her almost-a-man son. His brother would be home soon, with keys, and they would all troop inside—the opportunity for conversation lost. Focusing her gaze on his face, the set of his brow, and the cast of his mouth, Janine determined to do her best to invite his confidence. "I think something's bothering you. Would you like to talk about it...?"

2.03.2016

Transformation Miracles


I am confident of this very thing, that ...

He who began a good work in you ...

will perfect it until ...
the day of Christ Jesus.


"Don’t lose heart. Don’t give up. Don’t doubt the passion and ability of God 
to fulfill the plans of God for you and for the world."  
Marshall Segal, desiringGod.org
(click here for a short devotional on this profound topic)

*Photos of the stunning amaryllis show taking place 
in my kitchen windowsill right now. Watching the transformation 
is a constant reminder of this powerful verse. 
That an ugly brown lump of a bulb can produce these 
is a miracle of nature. One which hints at the 
mighty transformation miracle he does in His children.



1.28.2016

Game Night and Soup


There's lots to love about January game night.
Card games that feature loved ones laughing so hard that their eyes drip joy. 
Kitchen confidences shared over a steaming coffee pot while scores are tallied.
Flirty glances and idle threats lobbed across a table littered with dessert plates.

and ... SOUP! 
Here's what I suggest, but it does change every time. 
Consider this a (very) vague guideline for your soup. 
Personally, I've never made the same soup twice. 
I just cannot do it. 

January's Sunday Night Soup
1 large onion
1 cup carrots
1 cup zucchini 
1.5 cups potatoes
2 t. garlic
salt and pepper to taste
large box of broth
2 pounds chicken or beef
- Cook meat in large soup pot, keep the broth and cut finished meat into bite-sized pieces.
Saute each vegetable separately, seasoning each to taste. 
Use more or less of each, whatever your crowd likes.
- Dump finished veggies into the large soup pot with the cooked meat. 
This can be time consuming, so feel free to light a candle, check the laundry, or smooch your 
spouse while vegetables cook. You could use a pan for each veggie, if you have that many, 
to cut down on prep time, but I like to end with the smallest possible pile of dirty pans.
- When all the meat and veggies are finished, add garlic to the pot and pour in 
enough broth to cover everything. Simmer until flavors combine. 
To make creamy broth instead of clear, check out this listI use#7 - flour.