8.20.2015

One-Way Conversations

So 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.





8.15.2015

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



8.11.2015

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...?




8.07.2015

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.



8.05.2015

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



7.28.2015

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 :

Closeness 
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?

Perseverance 
 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?

Determination 
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.
Poof!

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.



7.24.2015

July's End


We've just passed the peak of summer here.
The day lilies have almost finished their show, and the shasta daisies 
are starting to die away. 
Deep green annabelles age calmly, while apples ripen and 
weigh branches to sweep lower.
The bees seem a little bit frantic as they do their day's work. They don't even go home 
for the night, but find a spot to sleep in the purple coneflower so they can 
wake up and get right back to work.

It's the only safe time to pet a bee, by the way, 
if you ever wanted to have that pleasure.

What's the end of July look like where you live?



7.09.2015

Wisteria Warning


Years ago, my neighbor planted wisteria along our shared fence row. At first I admired - I'm a sucker for a beautiful vine, you know that. Who wouldn't live to sniff those fragrant, purple blooms? What's not to adore about frondy foliage and clinging tendrils?

LOTS

There's so much to despise about Chinese Wisteria!

This government agency wants you to know it. 
 WISTERIA IS AN ENEMY 

My neighbor's wisteria grew, true to form, like a greedy monster. Within a few years, it  choked the other beautiful heirloom plants that lined her side of the garden fence: her grandmother's roses, a dark-red and yellow honeysuckle, and an antique white lilac unlike any I'd ever seen. It's managed to dominate a tree and is currently riding high from the canopy, waving thin, triumphant arms like it just don't care

I've worked hard to keep my neighbor's problem on her side of the fence. But if I don't maintain a ruthless cut and drag policy, I find the fronds strangling my own garden treasures. So I've occasionally 'slipped' and sprayed weed killer on a few wisteria plants that were creeping to my side. And when tiny, flexible wisteria seedlings sprout in other parts of our yard, I yank them out and make sure not a single root hair remains. 

The same scenario plays out in my life - in every life!  
I have the power of choice in what I allow to grow in my own 'garden'. Someone close to me may cultivate habits or tastes which are, according to scripture, not acceptable for God's children. Their choices may cause me to struggle, and as a result, I will have to do extra work to keep my own heart pure.

The ruin of my neighbor's prized garden is a cautionary tale which daily reminds me to 
be vigilant and intentional in the disciplines of heart examination and repentance.

And I've become pretty handy with the garden shears, too.



6.25.2015

Wearable Worth



Me in my favorite blue granny dress posing in front of the climbing roses.
I was about five years old, and might be a little hard to see ... but I'm glowing. 
dress proud
I couldn't find a definition - maybe it's a Kentucky phrase? 
But I'll bet I you know what I'm talking about. 
That particular feeling when you slip that special garment over your head. 
When you look in the mirror and know for sure - you're awesome!

I saw my own boys do the same - not with dresses, of course.
But they each had a piece of clothing which they prized over every other.
 A favorite shirt that was softer than any other,  
a hat, cocked just so, which gave an extra shot of cool,
and the jump-higher, run-faster shorts that saved the day.

How easily we are satisfied with outward garments when
 the worth we have in God's eyes is infinitely greater!
His view of our value is long lasting
wearable in every hour,
no matter what we have on our bodies.

Proof verses here.
Post them, tuck them, savor them.
Carry them, whisper them, shout them.

Wear your true worth wherever you go!


* Many thanks to my My Wonderful Aunt for sending these photos via email.
Thank God for the history-keeping aunts among us!


6.08.2015

Fairies and Photography

Last fall, I took a leaf photo that I loved. You know how good can be born from 
the very painful things in life? Well, that's exactly what happened.

My returning RA made it much too painful to get low enough to capture the light 
beaming through fall leaves scattered across our patio. So I fiddled with settings and 
took the photos 'blind' by placing the camera on the ground and pressing the shutter release.
 Every photo was a surprise, since I had nothing to do with the
 framing or focusing of the shot.

It occurred to me that photos taken from this vantage point  display what a fairy might see.
Guess I read a few too many books about woodland fairies in my childhood 
because it sure stuck with me!

 And now that spring is swelling into summer, I find myself  wondering what those
 fairies 
might see IF they wandered through my flowerbeds -
 Oriental poppies from below - quite an impressive sight!

 Painted ferns would make a colorful overhead display.

Lily of the valley blooms could replace church bells on any clear morning!
***
This would be a fun photo project for children this summer.  Any point and shoot camera, 
a DSLR with an 'auto' setting, or an iphone camera will do the job. Be ready 
to delete many photos that focus incorrectly, come out blurred or poorly lit. 
But wait for it ...

... they will be thrilled when they get a photo that perfectly portrays the everyday 
viewpoint of  the common garden fairy. And you have a chance to talk with them 
about seeing things from another person's perspective,
 and the effort and payoffs that are involved in that sometimes difficult  task.

Just a thought.

Link to more kid photography ideas here.

5.21.2015

The Ping


At this time of year, I'm on the hunt for garden plants.

On the way to take my place in the pick-up line, I 
swoop through the garden area of every local market. 

After driving to the county library, it's easy to
take a quick trip through the feed store plant section.

A fast in-and-out at the swank florist is convenient 
when it's so near the grocery. We always need milk!

 Last week I found an interesting display of lawn decorations 
at the local home improvement retailer.
I ask you, why would anyone want a fake hydrant in their yard? 
I have enough problems with dogs using my front flower beds as their
poop town of choice. If I put this out there ... they might think they're invited!
(You know about Go, Dog. Go! don't you ...? They're just looking 
for a place to party.)
This angel with a price tag around her neck, gilded with buttery morning light 
stopped me cold, right between the hanging baskets and the rows of vegetable seedlings.
 Maybe it was the angel's reverent posture that held my attention.
Her smiling assurance of victory ahead made me bend down to peer into her face. 

Something about this hunk of cement-ish plastic reminded me of the holy, 
surrounded by the ordinariness of a garden store. 
The sight of it was like a ping from heaven, 
reminding me that there are more important concerns at 8 a.m. 
on any given Tuesday than finding the best deal on a cell pack of petunias. 

The Westminster Catechism translates the ping:
What is the chief end of man?
To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

I find myself so often carried away in the distractions of life; the crazy, 
circular insanity of the mundane becomes my specialty, as if there is nothing else.
Glorifying God is pushed to the edge, forgotten. 

Then He pings me, and I remember where I am, 
who is in charge, and what is important.
I'm so thankful for that!








5.18.2015

Weeping Willow


We bought this weeping willow tree in 1998.
I'm the one that bought it, although most of our purchases do involve a 'we'.
It was intended to be a birthday present for my husband's 
thirty-fifth birthday. A week before the big day, 
I bought and stashed it behind the shed, knowing I had found the
 perfect gift - a tree he had always admired and wanted.
 But on his birthday, our third child was lost to miscarriage. 
The tree was forgotten, left without a second thought in its hiding place.
 I confess that I mourned the loss deeply. I felt it was the death of one of our children, 
and not simply a miss, a mistake, or a random biological course correction
Even though I never inhaled the scent of that child or smoothed a perfect cheek, 
she was born in my heart as soon as the murky blue lines indicated  positive
From that very moment, my unborn child smiled and cooed in my imagination, 
and I already knew how her tiny form would fit in the crook of my arm. 
The physical body of a child may not be fully formed at twelve weeks gestation, 
but the hopes and dreams of its mother are already spun deep and wide.
By Father's Day, three weeks after his birthday, I was still blurry with aching. 
Somehow, I remembered the tree and pulled it out of its hiding spot to
 serve as the gift of the day. 

Planting that tree together as a deliberate memorial 
was the single most healing thing we did. Because of that tree, 
my child will not be forgotten, and I am continually reminded to HOPE.

It's a step I would encourage any mother experiencing loss to take.


Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

* something special here