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.


The Fervent Beachcomber

 Steve took me to Savannah for a few days
a sweet birthday gift, maybe the very nicest part of turning fifty.
We left our spectacular room at the East Bay Inn and made the twenty-minute 
drive to Tybee Island.
 The early morning view was jaw-dropping. We roamed the beach and found a small, live sand dollar. 
Completely engaged in watching its tiny bristles move in the stiff beach breeze, 
 we didn't notice her approach. 
A hat-wearing beachcomber leaned in like an old friend, wanting a better view of the sand dollar. 
In shaky, ominous tones, the older woman narrated the plight of the sea creatures around
 Tybee due to recent offshore dredging. Obviously concerned for the life 
of the sand dollar still bristling
 in my husband's hand, she testified that the best policy is to 
"throw it back into the waves, and give it a fighting chance."
 As she edged nearer, I got the idea that she planned to snatch the sand dollar  
from my husband's hand and run into the waves, alone on a daring 
rescue mission to return it safely to Neptune's bosom. 
So my husband threw it into the waves himself, saving her the trouble, 
and she walked on with a smile and a casual (but triumphant) wave. 


Fall Flowers & Family

The garden is starting to slide downhill in my Kentucky acre,
but it still has lots to offer.
The Coral Drift rose bush is turning cartwheels in a garden plot where everything
else is finished for the season. 

My garden true love, Heavenly Blue morning glory, finally reached the top of 
the tepee and is blooming like crazy. It's one tall, majestic cascade of sky blue.
But they're best appreciated up close. These lucky black bugs think so too.
More on morning glories from a few years ago here.

And as always, the zinnia is the hardy hero that saves the fall garden.
Zinnias bloom and bloom and bloom without any attention. 
Extra watering, deadheading, staking—it's just not going to happen in October. 

This photo was taken a month ago today. It was a Friday night, just before a backyard 
party. My husband arrived home from the vet with bad news—
our family dog only of fourteen years had very little time left 
and there was nothing to be done to help. 
"I want to get a photo of all of us with her."
My Middle Son put a hand on my shoulder and said, "Then we should do it now."
So we did. 
I stopped filling coolers and Steve put away the grilling tools. 
All the guys delayed their work/school/social schedules long enough to get this photo.

It's a keeper.



Look! It's my birthday ... weed. 
Let's face facts - not much is blooming in mid-August, 
except ironweed.  
Just before my birthday and just before school started, 
we took a desperate-to-hold-on-to-summer outing to Lake Cumberland. 
The boats were all rented when we arrived, so 
we took in the sights at the fish hatchery
where only a certain sort of person is admitted.
(But I got in anyway!)
The next day, we rented  the tiniest, fastest  little pontoon available; the weather 
was perfect for boating, floating, and sky-gawking. 
Not so much for fishing ... 
Is it wrong to pray fervently for fish to bite?

Look at my handsome husband out there, waiting for me with a float built for two.
He thinks I'm still able to dive in with hardly a splash
Such a funny guy! 


Just Get Away

When our guys were boys, we were huge fans of 
a well-placed Get Away. 
Because, of course, there was so much to  get away from, like: 

* Non-sensical bickering about who touched what first, and 
the never-ending argument about who looked at whom

* Dirty socks which multiplied, somehow, under the couch, and their companions ... 
dirty dishes, dirty sheets, dirty looks, dirty pets, dirty feet—DIRT.

* Conversations which started like these—
"You used my toothbrush for WHAT?"
"Please do not lick the door handle."
"Don't touch your brothers butt."
"That's too high. It's too high! Stop!"

Things are not the same, these days.
I won't say that we don't need the well-timed Get Away like we 
used to, because we still definitely do. It's just that the intensity of 
mid-life  is pressure of a different kind. We no longer 
 run (screaming) from our home trailing 
gummy worms and wet wipes. 

Now we struggle to make room in our over-stuffed schedules
and hatch complicated plots regarding the comings and goings of 
the other people who live here.
The same ones who used to lick doorknobs.

But it's worth it to enjoy soothing fountains like this one, 
 long conversations while holding hands, 
and antique mall smooching.

What's your favorite place for a Get-Away?


Summer Visiting

Guest posting is fun.
Check out my guest post at
Lindsey Brackett's blog

Lindsey is a wonderful writer friend and an earnest soul.
Browse around—you'll be glad you visited her blog.


The Pigeon Guy

Jesus Trashes the Temple Market
What a headline, right? Check out Mark 11:15-19 here. I love the verse that says He would not allow anyone to carry anything through the Temple. Imagine that guy who woke up late, grabbed his crate of pigeons and hurried toward his spot in the Temple market. Up the stairs he rushed, only to be stopped by the Son of God, overflowing with righteous anger. Was it in this guy's face that Jesus made His declaration? 
"My house shall be called a house of prayer ... but you have 
made it a den of thieves!"

As I read this passage today, the sun crested the tree line and beamed heat on the side of my face—9 a.m. and already hot. The July garden exhaled its heavy fragrance of peak season as the words of scripture sifted into my heart spaces.

We are His temple now. The temple market He trashed is long gone, trampled under Roman feet until not one stone remained upon another. But epistle writers say that His temple of preference is now ... in us. And how is that going? Am I using this temple I've been given as a holy house of prayer? Am I bringing the sacrifices of praise and offerings of self? How often have I abused my privilege just like the pigeon-carrying guy?

 So much to ponder on an early morning in July. 



Summer is buzzing along outside my doors.

Temperatures have been mild, so we've had lots of open-window nights.
The music of night creatures accompanied by wind in the chimes is a magic 
carpet straight to dreamland. Where I want to stay until morning. 

But ... now that I'm older, I have lots more time for pondering in the hours when 
the rest of my house sleeps. Maybe you can identify. 
These days, with no rhyme or reason, my eyes just flutter open and I'm awake.
Am I awake to pray? Undoubtedly. 
Am I awake to worry? Often.
Am I awake because I'm almost fifty? (sigh) That's what I hear. 

I love how Father Tim, main character of the Mitford novels, prays his way through 
the town of Mitford during his nighttime waking hours. 
Following his literary example, I turn the fan up a notch and settle back in bed to pray my 
way through the rooms of my home, for every beloved who comes and goes through these doors. 
Then I turn my nighttime prayer walk in the direction of my nearest neighbors.
Though still in bed, I stand in front of their homes and ask for blessing, mercy, wisdom.
In my mid-night prayers, I wander our church asking favor on those who minister there.
Sometimes, I even prayer wander to visit our missionaries on far foreign fields ... 
are you getting sleepy yet?

I wish I was.


Umbrella Lights

Umbrella lights that blink on just as the sky turns dusky-dark blue 
- dreamy!
I wonder what the fireflies think about 
this new backyard feature ...


On the Fringe

I was reading this morning in my favorite gospel, Mark, and found an interesting contrast. 
At the beginning of chapter six, Jesus is in his hometown of Nazareth. The home folks were familiar with him and the business he kept before the start of his ministry years. They knew his parents and his brothers and sisters by name. Read the account here.

Chapter six tells us that he, Jesus, the Son of God, the Alpha and the Omega, the bright morning star, could not do miracles there. Could not! And check out verse six—He marveled at their unbelief. Other versions say "he was amazed" and "he wondered." Is this the saddest account of familiarity breeds contempt you've ever heard?
At the end of chapter six, Jesus comes ashore in Gennesaret. The people there recognized him also, but not in the same way. These people "ran about the whole region" to bring the sick to him. Laying them in the market, they hoped for healing as Jesus passed by. Indeed, the scriptures say that as many as touched the fringe of his garment were made well. 
I don't know if you love missionary stories like I do. The stories of what Christ is doing over the seas and in far-flung points on the globe fascinate me, and I know I'm not alone when I wonder—Why don't we see these miraculous events in America? I think the answer might be in Mark 6. Is it possible that the American church is so familiar with Lord of the Universe that we lean, in fact, toward contempt? Maybe ... maybe not. 

What I can say for sure is that in my personal spiritual life, I can identify. I've known Jesus as Savior since I was a child. Through every joy and pain of adolescence, education, marriage, childbearing, disease, transition—all of it. Does this familiarity rob me of the greater works he wants to do in my life ... but cannot? Does he marvel at my unbelief? 

Today I'm repenting of thinking like an overly-familiar and contemptuous Nazarene. I'm holding out my heart and asking for a Gennesaret kind of faith. I want to run to him in expectation, knowing that one finger on the fringe of his garment is powerful enough to change everything. And not just for myself, but for those I love, too.

* Don Juan climbing rose