Awake, Sleeper!

It's all coming up out there. 
The garden is awake and stetching, right through deep layers of leaf litter, 
pushing aside winter blankets of muck carried by now-vanished snow drifts.
Every year I'm amazed that it all comes back to life. 
As if there never was an icy glaze on every branch -
every flower bed a blank slate with only dead twigs to show where
life had once flourished.
Bundled, I browsed the gardens in January and prepared to mourn in May.
And then ... there they were - 
Everyday Miracles, scattered in the dirt of the my own backyard.

Side Note:
Moms of young adults / late teens talk. Boy do we talk! And we laugh, grieve, rejoice, fret, and pray. Repeat. Too often we get stuck on fret part of that cycle. Or we pitch a tent and camp in grief. Once a sweet mom pal said to me, "I know he's not following the Lord. After all that's gone on - he can't belong to Him." Of course this is our most gripping fear. That the children we reared to love God -
the ones whose sweet voices wobbled along with ours on 'Come Thou Fount', the tots who quoted psalms to the beat of a Playskool hammer, the tiny ladies who allowed imaginary tea to be served only after a grateful prayer to Jesus - that these might emerge into young adulthood with their faces set against the Father. 

As we browse the gardens of our children's lives in mid-winter, whenever that might occur, let's encourage each other not to rush to judgement. Don't mourn, and certainly do not lean into grieving with some other mother over what has not been proven! What seems to be dead in our sons and daughters may only be asleep, waiting for the right time to be called back by the Spirit. Let's be parent-gardeners who walk with hope and faith in what the Master will do, putting our trust in Him and not in any work of our own hands. Because friends, He alone is faithful and He will do it.

"Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind their wandering hearts to thee. " R. Robinson

Verses here.

Come Thou Fount here and here and the modern hymn story here


Awesome Idea

We got this awesome idea last spring. It happens EVERY spring around here. 
The awesome ideas flow like tap water! Funds for financing awesome ideas don't. Most of 
the time, we remember this before we actually begin work on an awesome idea.
Awesome Idea: Build a deck behind the living room. 
We staked out the deck, making it plenty spacious, and discussed
railing options. Metal? Wood? Painted wood? Vinyl?
Did we want a roof? A partial roof? Pergola-style? Awning?
We planned to build it ourselves, we have lots of 'manpower', after all.
*To get a ballpark idea for actual cost of materials, we called for a couple of estimates.* 
In the time it took to get someone out to do an estimate, we dug the bed for this 
rock walkway. The walkway would edge right next to the deck and finally 
complete a rock path around the entire house. With the bed dug, we began the 
puzzling work (!) of placing rocks.
The first estimate came in and we laughed out loud. 
The guy must be crazy or not need this job - at all! What?! No way!

By the time the second estimate came along, we were finished placing and leveling the 
rocks and all that was left to be done was filling and top dressing. 

The second estimate was almost double the first. 
AND we found out that one of our vehicles would need to be replaced. 
Oh! Did you hear that nasty scraping sound?  
That was the Awesome Idea moving to the crowded back burner. 

We did end up with a really nice rock walkway made of native Kentucky stone. 
Now you can run all the way around our house and never have to get in the wet grass or mud.
Go ahead - run around! 
But don't try to stop for a rest on the deck ...



One week ago, I was above the clouds. 
Maybe because I don't get to do it very often, flying is still an 
amazing adventure for me. But this was the first time I've gone into the 
blue yonder on my own. I was alone in a crowd, and I can't say it was awful.
Security was so minimal - I didn't even have to take off my shoes. 
All that hubbub about zipper bags and 3 ounce bottles of whatever - 
there wasn't any. 
My seat was easy to find, both ways, and my seat mates were ideal
both times : thin, athletic women who wore headphones. 
I gladly gave up the armrest.
Since no one was paying any attention to me, I felt free to snap photos
 like it  was my first time in the air. 

Some of my favorite childhood memories are of flying with my dad in his small airplane. I loved the whole process - the flight check, communications with the tower - mysterious, invisible air traffic controllers, and the takeoff! The takeoff  never got old. All that crazy speed, faster and faster along the black and yellow tarmac then suddenly ... peace. The bumps and jumps of the wheels were finally silenced with one smooth dip-jump into the air; we were up, and the show really began! Dad was happy to take me on a kind of 'air tour', pointing out the sights not so far below. Everyday destinations seen from above appeared to be icons on a storybook treasure map.


Hymn Candle

Inexpensive pillar candles can be easily transformed
 into something unique and meaningful.
- Pick up an old hymnbook from a yardsale or library discard box. Carefully pull your 
favorite song*  from the book and trim the edges with a paper trimmer.
Please squash any guilt you might have about taking a page from a book that was going to be 
discarded anyway. You will be using the page, displaying it for thoughtful consideration. 
Isn't that better than tossing it on the trash heap to decay next to dirty diapers?

- Scrub whatever sticker it came with until the glass is completely clean.
- Wrap the trimmed page around the pillar candle and secure with glue or scrapbooking adhesive tape.
- Embellish the candle with a long strand of raffia or ribbon. Add extra charm with
an old key, a small seashell, or vintage button.

Make a bunch and have a bright bank of lit hymn candles.
Take one to a new neighbor with a plate of cookies.
Use a holiday hymn to create a glowing centerpiece on your celebration table.

However you use your hymn candle, you'll be putting the gospel on display.
I remember this song from Sunday nights services in the Methodist church we attended when I was 
elementary age. My heart was so tender toward Jesus right at that time, and the
 Holy Spirit dropped this hymn right down into the center of my soul. 

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There's a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

For your further investigation - go here, check this out, and make time for this.



And ... more snow.
 Who can complain about this extravagant display of beauty that meets every glance?
(Those who operate the family snow shovels, that's who.)
After extended stinginess on my part toward piggish starlings
and warlike sparrows, the bird feeders are filled and busy again.

“Come now, and let us reason together,” saith the Lord
“Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; 
though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."


Pour It On

I always make Valentine cards or notes for my sons even though they're mostly-grown. 
Is that hokey?
It just seems like a perfect chance to express a little mother love, and a great
 opportunity to remind them Who loves them more than anyone else ever could.
This Valentine verse from last year still holds its place on the magnetic board in 
the kitchen. I made it for myself and couldn't throw it away when March came 'round.

"...each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me..." 

That's good stuff there - better than a box of chocolates!  
Where in this world can we get  truly unfailing love -
the unconditional kind that never runs out, never grows cold, never lacks power? 
Only from the Heavenly Father!
And He gives it so lavishly, pouring it out, without any concern for waste.

I think this verse might stay through all of 2015, too ...


Single Snowflake

When is it going to snow around here, anyway? 
The northeast is hogging all the fun!
And all the snow days.
After all those warnings ...
 'This winter will be much worse than last!'
...every grocery had a mountain of rock salt to sell, and every hardware store 
owner cheerfully stuffed a bin full of snow shovels. 
The old folks took delight in crowing the wisdom of the Farmer's Almanac:
'Last year's polar vortex will have nothing on the coming winter of 2014/2015!'
But so far - barely a flake. 
What happened farmers?
So we've not had an occasion to hang our January paper snowflakes. 
This lonely one is taped to the wall in hopes of attracting more.

I'll let you know if this technique works!


Personality Plus

Stubborn as a mule.
Or this Shakertown donkey.


Drying Linens

From the Shaker Village Get-Away:

At Pleasant Hill, back in the day, Shaker 'sisters' were expected to spend most of the day 
glorifying God through work in the kitchens, the weaving rooms, or the laundry buildings...  
Women of all ages labored in this small set of rooms and turned out 
clean clothes and linens for hundreds of people. 

Can you feel the peace of drying linens racked so closely, a concrete display of 
joyful community, each owner represented by initials carefully sewn on a cloth corner or seam?
 Or could there be hints of competition here? 
Did certain pieces always win space on upper racks ...
whose linens were the most carefully made, woven in the most brilliant patterns ...
which linens displayed the neatest stitches? 
I wonder if it was it peaceful, truly, among those Shaker laundresses 
in early January of the 1800s?
* photo of the restored laundry rooms as they would have looked in the early 1800s 

Side Note:
When my sons were small, they were blessed with the same good health that most American children enjoy. But when they became sick with whatever virus was going around,  I took pleasure in playing the mamma-caretaker to each, and maybe even spoiled them a little bit. Women often complain that men are such babies when illness strikes - this sort of indulgence by mothers like me might be the reason.savored any opportunity to snuggle one of my sweet little boys who would normally be running, leaping and squirming to get away. 

Now my sons are mostly-grown, all tall and strong - I'm so grateful for them. When they get ill, to my amazement, they find the appropriate over-the-counter medication and dose themselves. They judge when, or IF, a doctor will be called. It's crazy! Just one more thing I always did for my children which they now do for themselves. 

For the last six months, one of my sons has faced the challenge of an auto-immune disease. He regularly drives himself to the doctor and endures a difficult procedure with admirable fortitude. Early this morning he came downstairs with resolve painted across his face; he shrugged into his coat, grabbed his keys and (again) turned down my offer to come along. 

But he did let me linger a tiny bit longer than usual on the goodbye hug.


The Spooky Eye

More from Shaker Village:

Would you believe that calling this bull would cause it to actually come ambling over? 
Would you WANT this bull with its menacing horns to  come any closer than this?  
 So while my husband called and cajoled, I freaked. 
"Oh. My. Gosh! Don't call it any closer! Watch out for its horns! What if it can 
jump over this wall? What if it can climb over? For Pete's sake - DON'T TOUCH IT!"
I snapped photos of the impending loss of his hand and babbled warnings.
But it wasn't long before I made pals with the big guy ...  
... and his super spooky eye.


Rolling Hills

 The rolling hills of Kentucky, as seen from the walkways of Shaker Village in Pleasant Hill.
We stayed here on our Christmas Get-Away, January 2nd and 3rd. 
 Oh the peace of nearly-deserted museum rooms, reading history until I'm finally satisfied. 
Tours of restored buildings and tales of the long-gone citizens of Shakertown 
from docents and enactors eager to please their only visitors of the day. 
I'm still thinking of it. 
One of the unexpected pleasures of a get-away is the reminiscing. 
"Remember how much fun we had when we went to ____?" 
"Yes! The fireplace ... the balcony ... that Chinese place in town ..."
Fond smiles, clasped hands, sparkling eyes. 
I'll never regret the time, effort and expense it's taken 
 to get away from our daily lives and make memories with each other, 
as husband and wife.



All the Holiday merriment has been packed away and slugged to the attic.
That is, except for those few crafty items that managed to dodge under a bed
or crouch in a drawer. 
Is it only me, or does everyone have a similar pile of Christmas leftovers discovered
 in the post-celebration cleaning, now glaringly festive in the thin January light? I've been sorely tempted to 
open the door and toss them out, somewhere near the dried-up and forlorn tree. But I don't.
OK - there was that one time with a cookie tin, and it was too ugly to keep. 

So now it's time for this - 
Ah! Space for peace and pondering!
I guess the first-grade teacher in me lingers on, because that 
child's chair is my favorite place to sit in the winter. 
Or maybe it's my favorite because it's the very closest to the fire ...?

*** We took our (We Survived) Christmas Get-Away - photos soon to come.