Library Day

In elementary school, my favorite day was Thursday,
because it was Library Day. 
I could hardly wait to enter the small library at the end of the upstairs 
hallway, past the water fountain, next to the double doors.

It didn't matter that the librarian, Mrs. R., had a nasty temper. 
Oh, I noticed her saggy scowl deepen as we filed into her domain, 
but I knew her anger wouldn't lash in my direction. 

Mrs. R. took no notice of the nerdy girl with too-large glasses 
engrossed in selecting her next Nancy Drew adventure

The lumpish mole between her eyebrows quivered and protruded 
as she pounded tables and flung periodicals at naughty boys—
Mrs. R. did dislike those grade-school boys. 
I identified.
So while she tossed plastic chairs and whoever sat in them, 
I opened books and trained Big Red with Danny or wandered the dump 
with the Boxcar Children, searching for barely-chipped china plates.

The hoofbeats of the Black Stallion, the King of the Wind, and their Island counterpart
drowned out the rantings of that long-ago, rural-Kentucky librarian. 

And really, what could be more riveting than Miss Hickory's dark relationship 
with the squirrel?
Not much ...

I wonder if you remember your earliest librarian. 
Did she teach you to love reading or 
did you learn to love reading in spite of her?
Which books were your favorite childhood escapes?
I'd love to know.


The Rest of the Story

When your kids are little, you hold a (somewhat) omniscient position. 
You know their lives down to the smallest detail —
This one loves trips to the zoo to see the elephant,
 and that one sobs like the heartbroken inside a drive-through car wash
You know who squeezed all the toothpaste into the garbage can, 
and you know who will tattle at the first opportunity.
You plan where to go, what to wear, and what time to arrive. 
Whatever happens within the family, you're usually able to answer the 
basic questions—who did what, when, where, and how.

Until they grow up, and you learn you were all wrong about the omniscient thing. 
All wrong ... is that really any surprise? 
It is the overarching theme of parenthood ...
My husband and I have recently been introduced to "The Rest Of The Story." 

It's a little like being handed the extended version of a movie you've seen a thousand times. 
Those moments when your grown children reveal extra bits of information, 
adding vibrant, and often hilarious, texture to stale, familiar scenes. 
With any chance of consequences long, long gone, "The Rest Of The Story" 
conversations have been rolling around my dinner table lately.
We usually end up saying something like:
Aha! THAT'S what happened to my brand-new hammer. 
Oh! Now I know why the neighbor always seemed so angry. 
I wondered how the dog got up there!


Windowsill Victories

I need something to grow—especially in January.

These eyes of mine  need  to watch the slow greening of a bulb and 
the little-by-little, day-by-day emergence of life

And when those roots power down, even enough to lift the unsuspecting bulb 
up and out of the soil ... somehow a tiny bit of the victory belongs to me too.

My kitchen window is populated with post-holiday, clearance bulbs  
each coming to life at the appropriate time and at the perfect pace.
I'll keep you posted on the small victories occurring in my kitchen window.

Are you growing anything in the bleakness of January?
Send a photo and share the joy!


Snow Designs

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, 
that it kisses them so gently? 
And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says
‘Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.’” 
― Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass

 "The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. 
You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, 
and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?"  - J. B. Priestley

"Come, let’s talk this over, says the Lord; 
no matter how deep the stain of your sins, 
as freshly fallen snow."  -  Isaiah 1:18

The intricate design of the humble snowflake never ceases to astound me. 
My photos can't do justice to these crazy-amazing bits of beauty that fall 
from heaven like miniature gifts and promptly melt 
away—how unbelievably lavish!
Numb fingers and a runny nose were small prices to pay for 
seeing such holy artistry up close.

Did you get out in the snow today? 


Building and Crushing

We used to build these, only to crush them a few weeks later.
I think this one's from 2010—so long since I huddled 
with my school-age sons around this edible architecture project.

The traditional house smashing on New Year's Eve was always hard for me, 
although the guys could hardly wait for that part. 
Children have less trouble letting go than adults, I think.

What will we build in 2017? 
How much of our work will be crushed and swept into the garbage?
What will survive to nourish and bring good pleasure to those around us? 

Please join me to prayerfully consider what will be built in 2017, 
in our lives and in the lives of those we love.

To ponder - Psalm 127:1
Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted.


An Unexpected Gift

We took our tribe of guys, their friends, and some older family members out 
on a gray, blustery day to see a Christmas program

The auditorium was packed full, and the seats we finally claimed were on the extreme right 
edge of the stage. By the time we finished shuffling our elders to the better seats, 
I had no view of the set at the back of the stage at all, but a decent view of the stage itself. 
Circumstances were not ideal, if you get my drift. 

The house lights went down, the play began, and my heart was tossed right into a hurricane.
The music, the props, the movement ... I was swept, unanchored, into the drama of the incarnation.
My neighbors to the left and right—unaffected.
Those in the rows around me rustled and shuffled as you would expect, but I was 
bolted in my seat, blanketed by a downy heaviness, the very last thing I 
expected to experience. 

I'm not unfamiliar with what happened. 
In the old-time church circles of my youth, they'd say, 
"The Holy Ghost was strong in the house today!"

I came away refreshed and almost raw, with a newly circumcised heart
a precious Christmas gift from my heavenly Father. 

Have you ever had a similar experience? 
I'd love to hear about it.


Quite a Trick

The Christmas tree is up and trimmed. 
It's our tradition to slug all the holiday containers down from the attic, order 
Chinese food, and decorate the tree and house in one evening
with It's Wonderful Life playing in the background.
My family's favorite part of this might be the egg rolls.
But this year, I sensed an undertone that surprised me. 
Turns out I wasn't the only one to figure out that this is our last holiday like all those 
that came before. I knew it, of course—our Oldest is on the brink of buying a home of 
his own, our Second is getting married in the spring, and our Youngest is off to college 
next fall. Yes, for sure, next Christmas will be very different. 
And it seemed that each of us paused for just a moment and nodded to that fact.

One of the tricks of parenting adults and almost-adults, I think, must be 
to spend more time anticipating what's to come than clinging to what's passed by
Not an easy trick, my friends, especially with a bellyful of shrimp lo mein.


Thanksgiving Hopes

A house fire of mold swept the interior of our Tiny House pumpkin-carving contest entry.
Just another sign that Halloween is long gone, friends, and Thanksgiving is upon us.

A turkey is nesting in my refrigerator, taking up way too much room.
My Middle Son asked for his favorite "McDonald's dressing," and I'll make it, 
just because it makes the house smell wonderful. 
What about a Thanksgiving stuffing scented candle instead of vanilla frosting? 
Chicken pot pie in a tall pillar candle instead of peach cobbler? 

I hope conversation this Thanksgiving will be filled with love—the 
kind of love that jumps over high fences of social and political issues 
for a hearty kiss and hug on the welcome mat.

I hope to enjoy simple, catching-up questions like, 
"How is your work?" 
"What do you put in these green beans?" 
"Did your gardens close well?"
and "What are you reading?"

May our conversations be seasoned with remember-when laughter 
and not spoiled by the angry rehash of 2016 headlines.

It may prove too much to hope for, but ... I plan to do my part. 
Will you? 

You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, 
which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.
2 Corinthians 9:11

More Thanksgiving thoughts here.


November Light

Are you noticing the difference in the light over the last couple of weeks?
There's been a definite shift.
Weak winter sunbeams give way to frigid blasts.  
Spring sunshine hints and winks.
Summer rays brutalize.
But November light ...
You know how airy and bright a room looks when you take the curtains and blinds down for washing?
 I think it's like that.
November sunshine brings new clarity—sharp edges and crisp patterns.
 I wonder ... 
have you noticed the difference?

James 1:17


Beautiful Blues and Flash Fiction

The Heavenly Blue Morning Glory is pulling out all the stops on our garden tepee
even if the sky is the bleakest of grays today. 

And in other news, 
Splickety Publishing Group featured my flash fiction piece titled, "Frowzy."
It's about a bad haircut—I wonder if you've ever had an experience quite like Doris's? 
Check it out here and let me know in the comment section if you can identify.


Collecting Seeds for Next Year's Garden

When I'm in the garden at this time of year, my jacket pocket is crammed with 
small zipper bags and a sharpie marker or two.
Find these clear plastic bags in the beading section of any craft store, Walmart, or Amazon.

Hardworking garden plants may have left the days of summer beauty behind, 
but now they're preparing another gift—their legacy—SEEDS. 
(cleome seeds)

You can save spring gardening dollars by gathering
 next year's seeds from your own flowers instead of buying them.
(sunflower seeds)

If you haven't cut down old plant stalks and canes yet, 
the flower heads should be bursting with seed by now. 

As you wander along through your spent flower beds, select only the 
healthiest-looking seeds for your packets. Don't keep anything discolored or 
misshapen—those won't bring the best plants next year.
(clematis seeds)

Take an extra second and label the packet with your permanent marker. 
You might think you'll remember what plant they're from, 
but we all know how life uses its eraser on our short-term memories.

Let the Thomas Jefferson in you climb out and collect a few experimental seeds. 
These hardy begonia seeds will probably not bear anything, but it's a possibility.

Let the plastic bags remain open for a couple days until the seeds have time to 
dry completely before you zip them closed. If you zip the packets closed too soon, 
you'll end up with a packet of mold for your springtime surprise.
Store the packets in a cool, dry place, away from the sunshine. 

Happy collecting! 
The garden dollars you used to spend on pricey seed packets can 
now be used to buy that Annabelle Hydrangea you've always wanted ... 

More advice and methods for collecting seeds here and here.



The Sunflower Queen of the Garden is past her prime.

Withered, old-gold petals,
sun-crisped leaves, and a
heavy-hanging head.
But when the sun shines through, 
the ordinary is transformed, and what was ugly 
becomes lovely instead.

The Son has the same effect.
Read more here.